Sunday, May 31, 2015

Holy New Hieromartyr Philosophus and His Sons Boris and Nicholas (+ 1918)

St. Philosophus and His Sons (Feast Day - May 31)

The Holy Hieromartyr Archpriest Philosophus (Ornatsky) was born in the village of Erga in the province of Novgorod. His father was a priest. In 1885 Philosophus completed the theologial academy of St. Petersburg and married a woman named Helen. After being ordained a presbyter he worked pastorally in developing a huge philanthropic and missionary ministry.

Holy Five Martyrs of Ascalon

Holy Five Martyrs of Ascalon (Feast Day - May 31);
Photo shows Roman ruins in Ashkalon

Verses

As garments, the five men of the Lord,
Were strangely spread out by being dragged.

These holy five Martyrs were perfected by martyrdom in Ascalon (Ashkelon), having been dragged upon the earth to death.

"The Earth Has Become Heaven Today"


By His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

In a famous speech of Saint John Chrysostom, where he speaks of the epidemic of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he says the following:

"The earth has become heaven today, not that the stars have descended from the sky to the earth, but the apostles have been raised to the heavens, because the grace of the Spirit has been poured out."1

From the day of Pentecost the All Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has been with us, "the Spirit of Truth, Who is everywhere present and fills all things, the treaury of good things and giver of life." He is Life and life-giving, Light and light-giving, Goodness and the source of goodness, the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of prudence, God and god-maker, Fire and the fire-producer. This is what the hymnographers of the Church chant.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Mysterious Paschal Liturgy in Hagia Sophia in the Year 1522


"In this year (1522) God showed a sign seen in the city of Constantine on the great Sunday of Pascha. At midnight the dervishes awoke and went to Hagia Sophia, to say their salavat prayers as was their custom. And entering the courtyard of the temple they heard chanting; and they also saw a great light in the temple, and approaching it they found the gates opened and the sound of chanting, singing Christ Is Risen. Upon hearing this they immediately informed the master, so that he physically came, and heard and saw with his eyes, and called out to go up there to see if this was taking place by people. And straightway the light diminished with the chanting. And he rushed to cut off the Christians, but Piri Mehmed Pasha again prevented the onslaught."

Saint Emmelia as a Model for our Lives

St. Emmelia (Feast Day - May 30)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

From the fruit of a tree you can know its root. If the fruit is healthy and sweet, it means the root of the tree is healthy. So it is with children, namely, by the way they live and behave you can have an understanding of the parents. Of course, there are exceptions, but what is certain is that the example of parents plays a vital role in the progress and development of a child's life.

Saint Emmelia was a good and virtuous root that bore sweet fruit, her children, who emerged to become prominent members of society and, even more so, Saints of the Church, such as Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebastia, Macrina, Naukratios, etc. From a holy root came sanctified shoots, that is, from holy parents came blessed and holy children. Of course, the root was very deep. It passed from the father and mother and reached the revered grandfathers and grandmothers.

Friday, May 29, 2015

"The City Has Fallen", But It Also Lives (1 of 3)


May is the month of Constantine the Great, and his city Constantinople. On May 11th we commemorate the inauguration of Constantinople by Constantine the Great in 330, on May 21st we remember Saint Constantine the Great as a God-crowned king and equal of the Apostles together with his mother Helen, and on May 29th we experience the pain of the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The City of Constantinople "has fallen", according to the lament of the fall, and the royal throne of the Romans is gone, but its soul, known as Romiosini, is a sacred relic that has been divided throughout the world as a source of inspiration for Orthodox Christians. Romiosini is the inherited culture of Orthodox Christians everywhere, despite the defiance of some who try to present it as something nationalistic, dark or even a dead period of history, even going so far as to change its name (from a Roman Empire to a Byzantine Empire) to erase its remembrance from history and make it elusive, exotic and foreign.

In the hope of restoring the value of the glorious past of Romiosini, and its future not only as a culture but also a lifestyle of Orthodox Christians everywhere, the following lecture by His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou is offered as a small tribute to disseminate the truth. It was delivered at an event honoring the fall of Constantinople at the Diakideio School of Patras in 2002.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Eve of the Fall of Constantinople

Fresco depicting the fall of Constantinople

By Photios Kontoglou

Just as the saints are tortured, and their martyrdom finally ends with death, receiving the crown of incorruptibility, so also the Holy City, the New Zion of Christendom, having been tortured, it wept, hurt by all sorts of tyrannies, and the day came for it to surrender its spirit. The Holy Ark, the Twelve-Walled City, fell covered in blood on 29 May 1453, like the venerable mother of the Maccabees.

What chisel can write with blood, to record the grief and pain endured by those found in that thousand year old and revered civilization, which was, in the mournful words of King Constantine Palaiologos, "the hope and joy of all Greeks, the boast of all those under the setting sun of the east," and now was as a withered flower!

Saint Andrew the Fool for Christ as a Model for our Lives

St. Andrew the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - May 28)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

"Fool for Christ" is a category of saintly personalities who had many spiritual gifts, in particular the special gift of foolishness for Christ. They were not fools, or crazy, but they pretended to be so in order not to be praised and glorified by people for the spiritual gifts and miracles they displayed. They had deep humility, great love for God and people, and in a special way they helped those who were benevolent to be healed of their passions, and guided them on the path of progress and salvation.

Foolishness is a spiritual gift, which is given by God to those who have fiery zeal and ardent love for God, as well as the ability to tread this path until the end. Surely, however, what assists them in this task is their character. They mock the world, namely the worldly mindset, and the devil, who hates them to death. And they do this in order to substantially help people, and liberate them from being dominated by the passions and the devil, using various means, which in the eyes of "reasonable" people seem absurd.

Relics of Saint Vladimir to be Venerated in 45 Cities in Russia


Valery Astanof
May 27, 2015
Romfea.gr

The sacred relics of Saint Vladimir the Prince will be brought to various Sacred Metropolises of Russia on the occasion of the 1000 year anniversary of their translation.

According to reports, within a period of six months the relics will pass through 45 cities of Russia and Belarus.

Documentary on Saint John the Russian



Read also: Saint John the Russian, a New Confessor and His Incorrupt Relics

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Miracle of the Changing of the Vestments of St. John the Russian


By Protopresbyter Fr. Demetrios Athanasiou

The sacred relics of Venerable John the Russian were moved to New Prokopi in Evia in October 1924 by refugees. It was here that Greeks settled who came from Prokopi in Asia Minor. In 1930 a beauteous temple began to be built there in honor of the Saint, which was completed with much labor by the faithful in 1951. At this time the Saint was transferred to the new temple, where he remains till today.

This shrine is one of the great pilgrimage centers of Greece. The faithful arrive from all parts of the world to venerate the Saint, invoking his help and thanking him for the many miracles he performs.

Saint John the Russian as a Model for our Lives


By Protpresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint John was from Ukraine. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1711 he was enslaved by the Tartars, allies of the Turks, who sold him as a slave to a Turkish official in Prokopi of Asia Minor. The life of slavery was very hard for young John, especially in the beginning. The pressure to change his faith was unbearable and his torments indescribable. He lived in miserable conditions, but he found solace in unceasing prayer, through which he drew strength, courage and inspiration in his struggles. Willingly he performed the commands of his master, working diligently and tirelessly, while quietly and unceasingly whispering, sometimes with his lips and sometimes with his nous and heart, the "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."

With the passage of time the Aga began to "soften" seeing John constantly praying, working diligently, and serving him in the best way. Sympathy became admiration when he discovered that through faith and prayer young John worked miracles, not only for the benefit of others, but also for his master's benefit.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Chapel in Greece Dedicated to St. John Maximovitch


According to Romfea.gr, on Sunday 24 May 2015 the door-opening ceremony for a sacred chapel dedicated to St. John Maximovitch, who was the Bishop of Shanghai and later Archbishop of San Francisco of the Russian Church Abroad and reposed in 1966, took place in the Church of Saint Anna in Katerini.

The ceremony took place by His Eminence Metropolitan George of Kitros, Katerini and Platomonos, together with the priests of the parish and other priests of the Metropolis.

Holy New Martyr Alexander the Dervish from Thessaloniki (+ 1794)

St. Alexander the Dervish (Feast Day - May 26)

Verses

Give your head O straight-forward Alexander,
And receive a crown from the hand of the Lord.

Alexander was a young Orthodox Christian from Thessaloniki who was sent to Smyrna by his parents who sought in this way to protect their son from the local Muslims. Unfortunately, however, Alexander did come under the influence of the Muslim faith and accepted Islam. Moreover, he later made a pilgrimage to Mecca and even became a dervish, that is, a member of a Muslim monastic order.

It was not long, however, before his conscience began to trouble him. He found he could not tolerate the position he was in, that is, he could not stand by silently while Orthodox Christians, to whom he still felt related, were persecuted. To lighten the burden of his conscience, he began to feign insanity. While playing the role of a madman, Alexander tirelessly rebuked the Muslims for the injustices they committed against the Christians.

Saint Synesios of Karpasia in Cyprus

St. Synesios of Karpasia (Feast Day - May 26)

Verses

Synesios, grant me divine prudence,
That I may sing hymns to you as a liturgist of the Lord.

Saint Synesiοs (or Synesius) is the patron saint of the occupied village of Rizokarpaso and is regarded as the protector of the Karpas Peninsula (Karpasia). Unfortunately we have very little information about this Cypriot Saint, but what we know comes from a monk named Akakios.

Synesios was born in the ancient city of Karpasia and succeeded Saint Philon (Jan. 24), who was the first bishop of Karpasia, on the episcopal throne of Karpasia. He was a meek man without guile, who confronted the numerous heresies of his time with zeal to protect his flock from the ravaging wolves, and made sure that the Orthodox faith was established. His gentleness, the sweetness of his words and convincing arguments were reinforced by his numerous miracles. In this way, the enemies of the Church who sought to tear apart the seamless tunic of the Lord among the faithful of Cyprus, rediscovered the true Gospel message of salvation and the correct path of the Christian faith.

Monday, May 25, 2015

What Does It Mean When We Chant "Eternal Memory" at Memorial Services?


By John Sanidopoulos

When we chant "eternal memory" ("αἰωνία ἡ μνήμη") at the end of Memorial Services and Funerals, it is often falsely assumed that this memory of the departed be preserved on earth not only in the minds of loved ones, but even for many generations after. In fact, however, this hymn is not addressed to the loved ones of the deceased, nor is it addressed to the deceased, nor does it have any mortal purpose, but it is addressed as a prayer to God, who is eternal, on behalf of the departed.

One day the apostles came to Christ with joy saying: "Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name." Jesus replied: "Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in the heavens" (Lk. 10:17-20). In other words, Christ told His apostles to not rejoice over something here on earth that bears nothing on their salvation, but to rejoice over the fact that their names are eternally remembered in the kingdom of heaven. Their names are written in what is commonly known in Holy Scripture as the "Book of Life". This is best illustrated in the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Poor Lazarus after death is found in God's kingdom, and his name has become eternally remembered, while the miserable rich man lingers in Hades, utterly nameless. The name of a person is their identity.

Saint Zenobius, First Bishop of Florence

St. Zenobius of Florence (Feast Day - May 25)

Life

Born of a Florentine noble family (Geronimo), he was educated by his pagan parents. He came early under the influence of the holy bishop Theodore, was baptized by him, and succeeded, after much opposition, in bringing his father and mother to Christianity. He embraced the clerical state, and rapidly rose to the position of archdeacon, when his virtues and notable powers as a preacher made him known to Saint Ambrose, at whose instance Pope Damasus I (366-86) called him to Rome, and employed him in various important missions, including a legation to Constantinople (in 381 to deliver the papal views on the Arian heresy). On the death of Damasus he returned to his native city, where he resumed his apostolic labors, and on the death of the bishop of that see, Zenobius, to the great joy of the people, was appointed to succeed him. His deacons are venerated as St. Eugene and St. Crescentius. He evangelized Florence and its outskirts completely and combated Arianism.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Saint Agatharchos, Bishop of Lefkada, and the Holy Five God-bearing Fathers

St. Agatharchos and the Five Holy Fathers (Feast Day - Sunday of the Holy Fathers)

Halfway on the uphill road that connects deserted Alexandro with the seaside and bustling Nikiana, the driver or hiker will come across the Hermitage of the Holy Fathers. Crowds of pilgrims visit this location, which is on the northeastern outskirts of Skaros Mountain, the "Holy Mountain" of Lefkada, on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers, which is the Seventh Sunday of Pascha, between Ascension and Pentecost. It is on this Sunday that the Church honors the 318 God-bearing Fathers that comprised the First Ecumenical Synod.

Tradition gives us much information about the Holy Fathers and their relationship with the island of Lefkada.

Saint Kyriakos of Evrychou the Wonderworker

St. Kyriakos the Wonderworker of Evrychou (Feast Day - May 24)

This Saint and Wonderworker is not mentioned by any Cypriot chroniclers nor by any writers of the lives of saints (synaxaristes), but tradition and the ancient church just outside the village of Evrychou, bear testimony to his holy life and history.

Monasticism started booming at the end of the third and early fourth century and so was asceticism in the deserts of Palestine and Egypt. This spirit of total dedication to Christ dominated many Christians of that time. Among these men and women was Saint Kyriakos, the Saint of Evrychou, born of Christian parents and taught about Christ from childhood. However, as his Divine Service states, he came to love Christ from early childhood. This love continued on and became a complete dedication to Him. 

Ecumenical Synods as Charismatic Events that Represented the Church


By Fr. George Florovsky

In a certain sense the General Councils as inaugurated at Nicea may be described as “Imperial Councils,” die Reichskonzile, and this was probably the first and original meaning of the term “Ecumenical” as applied to the Councils. It would be out of place now to discuss at any length the vexed and controversial problem of the nature or character of that peculiar structure which was the new Christian Commonwealth, the theocratic Res publica Christiana, in which the Church was strangely wedded with the Empire. For our immediate purpose it is actually irrelevant. The Councils of the fourth century were still occasional meetings, or individual events, and their ultimate authority was still grounded in their conformity with the “Apostolic Tradition.”

It is significant that no attempt to develop a legal or canonical theory of “General Councils,” as a seat of ultimate authority, with specific competence and models of procedure, was made at that time, in the fourth century, or later, although they were de facto acknowledged as a proper instance to deal with the questions of faith and doctrine and as an authority on these matters. It will be no exaggeration to suggest that Councils were never regarded as a canonical institution, but rather as occasional charismatic events. Councils were not regarded as periodical gatherings which had to be convened at certain fixed dates. And no Council was accepted as valid in advance, and many Councils were actually disavowed, in spite of their formal regularity. It is enough to mention the notorious Robber Council of 449. Indeed, those Councils which were actually recognized as “Ecumenical,” in the sense of their binding and infallible authority, were recognized, immediately or after a delay, not because of their formal canonical competence, but because of their charismatic character: under the guidance of the Holy Spirit they have witnessed to the Truth, in conformity with the Scripture as handed down in Apostolic Tradition....

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Catholic Deacon Impressed With the Faith of the Greeks


May 21, 2015

Gianfranco Fiorin, a permanent deacon of the Roman Catholic Church, says he is impressed by the "experience of faith" that he is experiencing in Greece.

Gianfranco Fiorin has been accompanying the sacred relics of Saint Barbara from the moment they departed from Venice, where he has undertaken the restoration of the Church of San Martino in Burano island.

Synaxis of All Saints of Rostov and Yaroslav


The celebration of the Synaxis of the Rostov and Yaroslav Saints on May 23 was established by resolution of His Holiness Patriarch Alexis I (+ 1970) and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on March 10, 1964.

Rostov

- Archimandrite Abraham the wonderworker (October 29, 1073-1077)
- Right-believing Prince Basil (Vasilko) (+ March 4, 1238)
- Metropolitan Demetrius (+ October 28, 1709 and September 21)
- Bishop Ignatius (+ May 28, 1288)
- Monk Irenarchus the Hermit (+ January 13, 1616)
- Bishop Isaiah, wonderworker (+ May 15, 1090)
- Blessed Isidore, Fool-for-Christ (+ May 14, 1474)
- Bishop James (+ November 27, 1391)
- Blessed John of the Hair-Shirt (the Merciful), Fool-for-Christ (+ September 3, 1580)
- Bishop Leontius (+ May 23, 1073)
- Peter, Tsarevich of Ordynsk (+ June 30, 1290)
- Archbishop Theodore (+ November 28, 1394)

Holy Prophet Manaen

St. Manaen the Prophet (Feast Day - May 23)

All that we know of Saint Manaen comes from Acts 13:1-3, which says:

Now in the Church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

Based on the information in this passage:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Holy Relics and Pastoral Theology


By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Orthodox Church is a "laboratory of the resurrection," and it can even be said that it is a laboratory of sacred relics.

The revelation and manifestation of God offered to the saints takes place through deification. A person receives the revelation after participating in the uncreated deifying energy of God. Therefore, revelation is very closely associated with the deification of a person. The highest degree of divine revelation is Pentecost. When a person arrives at deification, they become entirely deified, in both soul and body, which is why we have the existence of grace-bestowing and incorrupt relics. The sacred, incorrupt and wonderworking relics certify the truth of the revelation and the experience of deification.

Saint Sophia the Martyr and Physician

St. Sophia the Physician (Feast Day - May 22)

Verse

Sophia, being first a physician of bodies,
Being beheaded, shows herself also a healer of spirits.

Not much is known about Saint Sophia, except that she was a physician who was martyred for her faith in Christ by being beheaded.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saint Constantine the Great Resource Page


Life and Veneration of Constantine

Synaxarion of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Equals to the Apostles

Constantine the Great as Saint, Bishop and King

The Transportable Church of Constantine the Great

The Helmet of Emperor Constantine the Great

Saint Savvas the Vimataris and the Miracle of Panagia Vimatarissa

The Vision to St. Paisios the Great of St. Constantine the Great

A Miracle of Saint Constantine in 1947

Saints Constantine and Helen Church in Plovdiv

The Tunnel of 365 Saints at Straja Hermitage

Sts. Prokopios and Constantine, Protectors of Orthodox Marriage


Constantine the Great as Saint, Bishop and King


By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

The famed Dositheos, on p. 80 of his Dodekavivlos, writes how although during the time of Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644) it was requested that the memory of Constantine the Great should be celebrated as a Saint, immediately he said yes. Accordingly, in the area of Calabria in Italy, there appears to be an old church of the Saint. Yet, Constantine the Great always was a Saint and Equal to the Apostles, for so he was called in the Minutes of the Ecumenical Synods, as well as in the common and traditional glory of the Church. 

Besides, he was anointed Priest and King, through the ministry of his rule, and through the noetic chrism and myrrh of the Priesthood. Thus the Church chants in his doxastikon the following verse: "Receiving the knowledge of the Spirit, you were anointed with oil as Priest and King, supporting the Orthodoxy of the Church of God." Therefore it is written in the Apocalypse: "And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:10). Assuredly not everyone who has been baptized in Him is a Priest, as in the nonsense of the Lutherans and Calvinists, but the Orthodox kings are guardians of ecclesiastical affairs and take care of it.

Synaxarion of Saints Constantine and Helen, the Equals to the Apostles


SYNAXARION

On the twenty-first of this month we commemorate the holy, glorious, God-crowned and
great sovereigns Constantine and Helen, the Equals to the Apostles.

Verses

As the earthly Sovereigns had the earthly crown in common,
So now they have in common the crown celestial.


This great and renowned sovereign of he Christians was the son of Constantine Chlorus (the ruler of the westernmost parts of the Roman empire), and of the blessed Helen. He was born in 272, in (according to some authorities) Naissus of Dardania, a city on the Hellespont. In 306, when his father died, he was proclaimed successor to his throne. In 312, on learning that Maxentius and Maximinius had joined forces against him, he marched into Italy, where, while at the head of his troops, he saw in the sky after midday, beneath the sun, a radiant pillar in the form of a cross with the words: "By this shalt thou conquer". The following night, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him in a dream and declared to him the power of the Cross and its significance. When he arose in the morning, he immediately ordered that a labarum be made (which is a banner or standard of victory over the enemy) in the form of a cross, and he inscribed on it the Name of Jesus Christ. On the 28 th of October, he attacked and mightily conquered Maxentius, who drowned in the Tiber River while fleeing. The following day, Constantine entered Rome in triumph and was proclaimed Emperor of the West by the Senate, while Licinius, his brother-in-law, ruled in the East. But out of malice, Licinius later persecuted the Christians. Constantine fought him once and again, and utterly destroyed him in 324, and in this manner he became monarch over the West and the East. Under him and because of him all persecutions against the Church ceased. Christianity triumphed and idolatry was overthrown.

Participating in the Ascension of the Lord (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Thus did the One ascend to Heaven Who held heaven within Himself. He who carries hell within himself will end up in hell, but he who bears heaven within his soul will ascend to heaven. And truly, no one can ascend to heaven other than those who have heaven within; and no one can end up in hell besides those who have hell within. The familiar is drawn to what is familiar and unites with the familiar; but it rejects what is not familiar. Matter submits to the spirit to the extent that the human soul is filled with the Divine Spirit; and the laws of nature are obedient to moral laws, which govern the world. Because the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the perfection of moral law, to Him is subject all matter—the entire physical world, with all the laws of nature.

The Sarcophagus of Saint Helen, Mother of Constantine the Great

Sarcophagus of Helen

This monumental red porphyry sarcophagus is believed to have held the remains of Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, who died around 328 A.D. and was buried in the Imperial mausoleum at Tor Pignattara, between the via Prenestina and the via Labicana on the via Casilina outside Rome. The Mausoleum of Helen was built by the Roman emperor Constantine I between 326 and 330, originally most likely as a tomb for himself, but later assigned to his mother, Helen.

The Helmet of Emperor Constantine the Great

Constantine: Silver Medallion 315 A.D.

The Helmet of Constantine was a helmet or form of helmet worn by the Roman Emperor Constantine I, now lost, which featured in his imperial iconography. According to Saint Ambrose and other early Christian historians, it included relics gathered in the Holy Land by his mother St. Helen. The helmet that Constantine wore had a nail from the True Cross that Jesus was crucified on, and Helen discovered on Golgotha. By making the helmet with one of the nails, it was supposed to protect him from any harm.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Ascension of the Lord and the Deification of Humanity


By Patriarch Daniel of Romania

The wonderful mystery of the Ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ, our Lord, has multiple and deep significance. We only want to emphasize three of them.

1) The Ascension of the Lord Means the Deification of the Human Being

The bodily ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ, our Lord, represents first of all the ascension of the human nature to the divine glory, to a dignity and honor never achieved before. "And with mercy you ascended our decayed nature and put it be together with the Father", says the Pentecostarion, while Saint John Chrysostom says that through the Ascension of Christ, our human nature "went higher than the angels, ascended over the archangels, over the cherubim and seraphim and never stopped until sitting on the throne of God".

The Vespers of the feast of the Lord's Ascension shows us that the Ascension of the Lord is the means of achieving the complete separation from the darkness of death and hell and reaching the heavenly light of eternal life, that is, the raising of human nature in the love of the Holy Trinity and its reception at the throne of the divine glory: "The angels are amazed to see humans higher than them. The Father receives in His bosom the One Whom He has always had in His bosom. The Holy Spirit orders all His angels: lift up, ye rulers, your gates! All nations clap your hands! For Christ ascended to where He was before."

The Blind Shepherd Who Memorized the New Testament


John Hasiotis was born in Milia Metsovo of Pindos in 1947. His village was inhabited by Vlachs and their language in the early twentieth century was Vlach.

Young John first came into contact with the Greek language during his studies in elementary school in his village, since the villagers at that time had neither television or radio.

After graduating he worked as a shepherd of his father's sheep. At a young age he had a reduction of visual acuity. He visited an ophthalmologist in Trikala, who diagnosed that he was suffering from a serious eye disease (retinitis pigmentosa), which causes blindness.

8 Year Old Chants "It Is the Day of Resurrection"


Eight year old Constantine, a student of Chief Protopsaltis Photios Giannakakis, chants "It is the Day of Resurrection" ("Αναστάσεως ημέρα") in Greek to the Chief Teacher of Music Demosthenes Paikopoulos, at an event held in his honor organized by the Friends of Music Association "The Theotokos" and the Association of Greek Nationals.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Saints Julian and Julias the Missionaries from Aegina

Sts. Julian and Julias (Feast Days - January 7 and 31; May 19)

In Aegina, Christianity spread rapidly and unhindered. This island was the origin of two great missionary figures who were also brothers from the early fourth century, Julian the Deacon and Julias the Presbyter. Julian was born in 319 and Julias in 330, and both brothers came from a rich Christian family in Aegina, probably in the village of Pahia Rahi in Aegina. After receiving a basic education on the island, they went for higher studies in Athens, studying at that time with Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and the future emperor Julian the Apostate.

Julian and Julias, admiring the work of the Apostle Paul, decided to imitate him. They returned to Aegina where they prepared for their mission. After their ordination by the Bishop of Athens, they preached, baptized, built Christian churches and destroyed the temples of idols. In Corinth they angered Arians who sought to kill them. Then they embarked on their long journey, initially intending to go to Italy, they went to preach the true faith to the inhospitable Balkan lands, in Bohemia, Poland and Hungary.

Holy New Martyr John the Dragati, also known as Arnaout-John (+ 1845)

St. John the Dragati (Feast Day - May 19)

The Albanian in origin and soldier John, nicknamed "Arnaout-John" (in Turkish the Albanians are known as Arnaouts), was a Muslim who was baptized a Christian and given the name John. He found a home in the village Agios Ioannis Phaistos in Crete and lived a pious and devout life, exercising the profession of a dragati (rural constable), in order to ensure their livelihood.

Certain rebels killed two Turkish gypsies. The Ottomans, who hated John because he renounced their faith, found an opportunity to take revenge. They complained to the secular authorities of the region saying that he was the murderer of the Turkish gypsies, accusing him also of seeking to exterminate Muslims after changing his religion.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Saint Paisios and the Young Man With Protestant Leanings


The following conversation between Fr. Paisios with a pious young man, who had been deceived by the falsehoods of Protestantism, was published in the annual publication O Hosios Gregorios of the Holy Monastery of Gregoriou in Mount Athos in the year 1995.

The late elder with seemingly simplistic answers to the existential questions of the young man, saved that soul from being lost and restored him to the embrace of the Orthodox Church. The Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Gregoriou, Archimandrite George, gave us permission to republish the text of this conversation.

A Severe Illness Requires a Big Hospital

Eventually I decided to go to the Orthodox Church. I confessed and began to receive communion regularly. Yet I had many serious questions to which I could not find answers. I sought the answers by meeting with theologians and clergy, but still to no avail.

Saint Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople

St. Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - May 18);
Seal of Stephen, Patriarch of Constantinople New Rome
(it is not known if this seal belonged to Stephen I or Stephen II)

Verses

After fading away he departed life,
Stephen thus received a crown where there is no fading away.

Saint Stephen was officially the son of Emperor Basil the Macedonian and Eudokia and was born in 867. But as his mother was the mistress of Emperor Michael III, it is very likely he was his real father along with his brother Leo. He was a student and synkellos (private secretary) of Patriarch Photios the Great, and after his second patriarchate Stephen came to the Patriarchal Throne in 886 at the age of nineteen, according to the choice of his brother, and occupied it while his brother Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-912) reigned.

Holy Martyrs Peter, Dionysios, Andrew, Paul, Christina, Herakleios, Paulinos and Venedimos

Sts. Peter, Dionysios, Andrew, Paul, Christina, Herakelios, Paulinos, Venedimos (Feast Day - May 18)

Verses

To Peter.
Peter was wounded by means of the wheel,
Departing to where the wheel of life does not cease.

To Dionysios, Andrew and Paul.
Three stones with firm faith were crushed,
Paul, Dionysios and Andrew with stones.

To Herakleios.
In the contest Herakleios you went to the sword,
Concealing all the contests of Hercules.

To Paulinos and Venedimos.
See me Paulinos O Venedimos,
Beheaded yes Paulinos beheaded with you.

To Christina.
You present before Christ entirely bright,
Your blood O virgin Christina.

On the eighteenth the champions entered heaven from earth.

5th Century Processional Cross Discovered in Bulgaria


Ivan Dikov
March 2, 2015
Archaeology in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a large bronze cross during excavations in an Early Christian basilica in the ancient city of Parthicopolis, which is located in today’s southwestern town of Sandanski.

The find is unique because the cross is approximately 1500-years-old – it is dated back to the 5th-6th century AD – but also because of its size, reports Bulgarian TV channel News7.

At 55 cm in length the Early Christian bronze cross discovered in one of the four ancient basilicas in Sandanski known as the Bishop Basilica is the largest of its kind to have ever been dug up in Bulgaria.

The archaeologists conducting the excavations in the basilica in Sandanski, Southwestern Bulgaria, have found two smaller bronze crosses as well.

According to Vladimir Petkov, who is the director of the Sandanski Museum of Archaeology, the large bronze cross was used by the Early Christians of Parthicopolis – they would carry it at the front of religious processions.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Man Born Blind and the Malicious Exaggeration of the Scribes and Pharisees


By His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

Saint Asterios, Bishop Amaseia, interpreting empirically the sacred text of the Gospel Reading that refers to the miracle of the man born blind, is both revealing and timely.

Besides, the Holy Fathers, having in their hearts the living presence of Christ and being enlightened with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are always relevant and timeless.

Saint Arsenios reveals, through a series of explanations, the problem which occupied the Scribes and Pharisees, that came from the healing of the man born born blind, which primarily was the sickness which hid in the space of their heart, where the evil passion of slander resided.

He wrote: "They (the Scribes and Pharisees) occupied themselves first with whether or not the blind man was the same person and not someone else who presented himself as the blind man. Their second strategy ... was to deny the event and try to prove that Christ was not the One who performed the healing. Third, they rush again to examine the malady to see if the man was indeed blind from birth, seeking out the parents of the man and scrutinizing every detail, not to certify the act, but to find out by overthrowing it how this miracle indeed took place, manufacturing a conspiracy to overthrow the momentum of the crowd that believed. O malicious exaggeration!"1

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saint Nicholas I Mystikos, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 925)

St. Nicholas the Mystikos (Feast Day - May 16)

Verses

Nicholas departed this life of shadows,
Entering a land of shadowless light.

Saint Nicholas the Mystikos is considered one of the most remarkable patriarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, who played an important role in the public and ecclesiastical life of the Roman Empire of Byzantium.

Born in 852, he came from an illustrious Roman family of southern Italy and was a relative of Patriarch Photios, who was his teacher and role model. Having received a remarkable education, and having been a classmate of the Emperor Leo IV the Wise (886-912), he was hence honored by the emperor with the office of "mystikos," serving as his personal consultant,* adjacent to his relations with Patriarch Photios.

He was a successor of Anthony II to the Patriarchal Throne, and continued the policy of Saint Photios to reorganize the Ecumenical Patriarchate which consisted of 624 Metropolises and Dioceses, and raise its influence, in particular through missionary activity to the people at the northern border of the empire.

Friday, May 15, 2015

How To Be The Most Happy

Torquato Tasso

Happiness is the deep desire of every human soul. All people seek happiness, young and old.

Where can such a precious treasure be found, and how can someone obtain it in this world and thus be happy.

This question was presented by King Charles IX of France (1550-1574) to the famous poet Torquato Tasso.

Manso, the biographer of Charles IX, presents the conversation as follows:

Saint Panegyrios the Wonderworker

St. Panegyrios the Wonderworker (Feast Day - May 15)

The life of this local Saint of Cyprus has not been documented, nor does he have a synaxarion (a brief summary of the life of a saint used for liturgical purposes). What is mentioned below is some data from his Divine Service and the description of his icon. He probably came from the village of Malounta in the Nicosia district and lived as a hermit in a hermitage near the village.

Saint Panegyrios seems to have followed an ascetic way of life from an early age. His icon depicts him as a hieromonk (monk and priest) who is likely to have become a monk and later a priest at a nearby monastery. On his icon he is presented dressed as a priest with a phelonion (a liturgical vestment worn by a priest over his other vestments) and he is blessing with his right hand while with his left hand he is holding a Cross. The icon was painted in 1708 and was repaired again in the year 1841. To the right of the icon the following is read: "1708. This icon was painted at the request of the servant of God priest Christodoulos. Bless me O Saint and all my household." And on the left is read: "This icon was repaired by the Commission of Haralambos the pilgrim in the year 1841 after Christ." The icon is large, a size that makes it possible for the icon to be placed on an iconostasis, and was formerly in the old church of Panagia Chrysopantanasa of Malounta, but during the past few years it was taken, along with other icons, to the new village church which is also dedicated to the Panagia Chrysopantanasa.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Saints and Feasts of May


First Saturday of May - Saint Gervasios of Gomati, the Athonite and Fool for Christ

First Saturday of May - Saint George of Gomati (+ 1845)

First Sunday of May - The Holy Six Virgin Martyrs of Geroplatonos of Halkidiki in 1854

First Sunday of May - Synaxis of All Saints of Gortyna and Arkadia in Crete

1 - Holy Prophet Jeremiah as a Model for our Lives

1 - The Love of the Prophet Jeremiah After Death

When St. Leontios of Jerusalem Gained the Respect of Pirates

St. Leontios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - May 14)

By Monk Theodosios of Constantinople

At one time, pirates invaded the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian on the island of Patmos, where St. Leontios (+ 1190), the future Patriarch of Jerusalem, was Abbot. The Saint received them with kindness. But, as barbarians, they demanded the usual things - roasted lambs, choice foods, bread and wine. The venerable one told the brethren to offer whatever the Monastery could afford. However, this did not satisfy them; they sought more.

Wherupon, Leontios stood in the midst of them and, with a calm voice, urged them to accept those things that were offered because that was all that the Monastery possessed. This was still unacceptable to them, so they started to taunt the Abbot and threaten the monks. Then, they went down to the shore and set fire to the Monastery's ship. The monks saw this from the Monastery and notified the Saint.

Tales of our Holy Father Serapion the Sindonite

St. Serapion the Sindonite (Feast Day - March 21)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
(Prologue)

`Sindon' means `linen cloth', and this Saint was called `the Sindonite' because he covered his naked body only with a linen cloth. He carried the Gospels in his hand. Serapion lived like the birds, with no roof and no cares, moving from one place to another.

He gave his linen cloth to a poor wretch who was shivering with cold, and himself remained completely naked. When someone asked him: `Serapion, who made you naked?', he indicated the Gospels and said: `This!' But, after that, he gave away the Gospels also for the money needed by a man who was being hounded to prison by a creditor for a debt.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Wisdom of God (4 of 4)



4. The Journey From the Resurrection to Pentecost

The period in which we find ourselves is very important. We're right in the middle between Pascha and Pentecost, hence Mid-Pentecost. And this has its own significance.

The events of the divine economy are consolidated, but as feasts we celebrate them differently in order to enter into their depths and imitate their spiritual meaning. The entire year is structured along the stages of the divine economy, and it is a fact that the Church prepares us for these always with fasting, prayer and worship gatherings in order to participate in them.

The Apostle Paul wrote: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20). The Christian lives the crucifixion of Christ when they crucify their passions and then experience the resurrection of Christ. The same Apostle in his epistle to the Romans refers to the Mystery of Baptism as a participation in the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ: "We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom. 6:4).

Saint Glykeria the Great Martyr from Trajanopolis

St. Glykeria the Great Martyr (Feast Day - May 13)

Verses

The beast's bitter bite of Glykeria,
Was truly more sweet than honey.
On the thirteenth the wild beast bit and killed Glykeria.

Glykeria, the holy martyr of Christ, was in her prime during the years of Emperor Antoninus (138-161), and when Savinos was governor of Trajanopolis in Thrace. Hailing from Trani, a seaport in the province of Bari on the Adriatic Sea, she was the daughter of a high-ranking Roman official. Upon her father's death, she became poor and departed for Trajanopolis.

Once, as Governor Savinos sacrificed before the idols, the holy Glykeria traced the sign of the honorable Cross upon her forehead. She then went before the governor, proclaiming herself a Christian and handmaiden of Christ. The governor summoned Glykeria to sacrifice to the idols. When she entered the temple of the idols, she prayed unto Christ.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Saint Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Wonderworking Icon of Lydda

St. Germanos of Constantinople (Feast Day - May 12)

Saint Germanos was born in Constantinople around 640 and was the son of the patrician Justinian. At the age of twenty he was orphaned, when his father was executed by Emperor Constantine IV the Pogonatos (668–685), because he was considered to be involved in the murder of his father Constans II.

Germanos, after being castrated, was placed among the clergy of the Great Church. He served with zeal in the study of the sacred letters, became deeply knowledgeable of them, and was distinguished for his holiness of life and his virtue. After visiting Jerusalem and worshipping at the sacred sites of the Holy Land, he returned to Constantinople and was ordained a priest. In 709 he was elected by Patriarch Cyrus to be the Bishop of Kyzikos. From this high position he fought strongly against the heresy of the Monothelites. When Patriarch Cyrus was deposed and his successor John VI died, he was chosen with the praise of Emperor Anastasios to be the Patriarch of Constantinople on August 9, 715.

Holy New Martyr John the Wallachian (+ 1662)

St. John of Romania (Feast Day - May 12)

Saint John was born into a poor family in Oltenia during the time of Prince Matthew Basarab (1632-1654), who was a prolific builder of churches (46 churches plus many restorations). His nephew Constantin Serban (1654-1658) succeeded him, followed by Mihnea III Radu (1658-1659). The latter took power with the help of the Turks.

Wallachia was a tributary principality to the Ottoman Empire for about 200 years already and many princes used to gain the throne by offering large sums of money to the Sultan. Mihnea probably took his throne through the same method, but shortly after he didn't want to accept the heavy taxes imposed on the country by the Turks. So he made an alliance with the prince of Transylvania George Rakoczy II and the prince of Moldova Constantin Serban (the former ruler in Wallachia) against the Ottomans. Shortly after, in 1658 he ordered the killing of a squadron of 2000 Turkish soldiers, and attacked and destroyed some ports and bridges at the Danube. His attack was coordinated with similar rebellions in Moldova and Transylvania. In the spring of 1659 the Turks invaded Moldova and Transylvania. Mihnea reported some small victories against the invaders but finally fled in Transylvania where he died from poisoning on April 6th. On their way back, the Turks crossed Wallachia in the valley of Jiu and took a lot of prisoners. Among the prisoners was Saint John.

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