Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Serbian Church Proposes for the Recognition of the 8th and 9th Ecumenical Synods


"You have done the work of the Holy Spirit. You have accomplished the work of the Living Triune God," wrote His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus in a congratulatory letter to His Beatitude Patriarch Irenaeus of Serbia, on the occasion of the second proposal (after the Metropolis of Piraeus) to the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches for the recognition of the Holy Eighth (879-880 AD) and Ninth (1351 AD) Ecumenical Synods at a future convening of the Pan-Orthodox Synod, perhaps in 2016.

The Descendants of St. Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia


By Hieromonk Makarios of Simonopetra

After the death of Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 328, the Church of Armenia was exposed in its tender years to the active hatred of the devotees of Mazdaism, and faced with the tenacious persistence of pagan customs. The successors of Saint Gregory at the head of the Church were also his descendants,* since for more than one hundred years after his time, celibacy was not required of any degree of the priesthood. Coming as they did from Caesarea in Cappadocia, the metropolis on which the Armenian Church depended, Gregory's successors did their utmost to achieve a harmonious conjunction of the native genius with the polished Hellenic (Romaic) Christian culture, so that the Armenian people might break free of Persian ascendancy. But their efforts to make Christian morals prevail in the realm came up against intemperance of all kinds that the kings and magnates were addicted to, and the scandal their debauchery gave to the people.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

An Interview With Elder Sophrony About Saint Silouan the Athonite (1 of 4)

Elder Sophrony (standing) with Saint Silouan (sitting)

Elder Sophrony (+ 1993) considered it his greatest blessing from God for having met and come to know Saint Silouan (+ 1938). In the interview below, which was done it seems shortly after the canonization of Saint Silouan, the theologian of the uncreated light, Elder Sophrony, analyzes with unique depth and clarity the central points of the teachings of Saint Silouan.

Elder Sophrony: As one Greek theologian writes, we are accustomed to praying to Saint Silouan as a saint, but this official Act of the Church, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, now gives us the ability to do this not only with our hearts and in secret, but openly and publicly.

Saint Mary of Palestine

Venerable Mary of Palestine (Feast Day - September 29)

By Cyril of Scythopolis

(From the "Life of Saint Kyriakos")

It would be profitable to relate the following, which Father John, the disciple of the blessed Kyriakos, told me as we walked through the desert. At one point, he stopped and said, "There is the abode of the blessed Mary."

I asked him to tell me of her, and he began by saying, "Some time ago, as I was going with my friend, Brother Paramon, to Father Kyriakos, we saw a man standing in the distance. Thinking that he was a hermit, we hastened toward him, that we might revere him. As we drew near, he hid himself from us. We were seized with fear and held fast in terror, for we thought we had seen an evil spirit, and we began to pray. After we had prayed, we looked about and noticed a cave in the earth, and we understood that he was no evil spirit but a servant of God who concealed himself from us. We approached the cave and besought him to reveal himself to us for God's sake, that we be not deprived of his prayers and edifying discourse. And we heard from the cave the following reply, 'What profit do you think to receive of me? I am a sinful and simple woman.' Then she asked us, 'Where are you going?'

Saint Kyriakos the Anchorite

Venerable Kyriakos (Cyriacus) the Anchorite (Feast Day - September 29)

Verses

The bitterness of the onions you warded off Kyriakos,
Giving them a sweet taste, or else you would be condemned to die.
Onion-eating Kyriakos made his end on the twenty-ninth.

Saint Kyriakos was from Corinth and born in 448 during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. He was the son of a priest of Corinth named John with his pious wife Eudoxia. When he was eighteen he was ordained Reader by Peter, the Bishop of Corinth, who was his father's uncle. With an ardent longing for God he departed for Jerusalem without telling his family. When he arrived he heard of the ascetic feats of Saint Euthymios the Great (Jan. 20), and became one of his disciples. Saint Euthymios thus tonsured him a Monk, but due to the fact that he was young and lacked a beard, he was sent to Saint Gerasimos (Mar. 4), who dwelt near the Jordan River, since Saint Theoktistos (Sept. 3) had already reposed. Kyriakos diligently served the godly Gerasimos and was obedient to him in all things, to the point where Gerasimos praised him for his strict way of life, and took him with him to the desert of Rouba every year from Theophany to Palm Sunday to spend the time in strict fasting and prayer. It was during their time in Rouba that Kyriakos and Gerasimos beheld the departed soul of Saint Euthymios ascending to heaven, prompting them to go and bury him.

Monday, September 28, 2015

St. Paisios the Athonite and the Monk Who Prayed For Stalin


By Hieromonk Christodoulos the Athonite

A certain monk, who lived as an ascetic in the wilderness of Kapsala, was thinking about which of the reposed was the worst person and now, in the other life, is in an unfavorable state. He thought about this with the aim of putting this soul "to his prayer rope" and praying to God to have mercy on him. After thinking about the past he chose Stalin as holding the position of primacy for being the worst, in that he caused millions of Russian Christians and non to be killed.

Synaxarion of Saint Isaac the Syrian


By St. Paisios the Athonite

Synaxarion

On the twenty-eighth of this month [September], we commemorate our Venerable and God-bearing Father Isaac the Syrian, Bishop of the City of Nineveh.

Verses

Isaac the Venerable we proclaim with celebration,
Through him we are initiated into mysteries most excellent.
On the twenty-eighth we celebrate Isaac our imperishable boast.

Holy and Righteous Prophet Baruch

Prophet Baruch (Feast Day - September 28)

Verses

Prophet Baruch friend of Jeremiah,
You dance with the prophets of Christ in the heavens.

The Prophet Baruch was the disciple of the Prophet Jeremiah, and he was so beloved by Jeremiah that he called him his "breath" and "repose". Though divided in body, they were united as one soul in mutual love, for the one and only Holy Spirit united them and guided them. When Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar (587 BC), Baruch fled with Jeremiah to Egypt, but later went to Babylon.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Saint Epicharis the Martyr of Rome

St. Epicharis (Feast Day - September 27)

Verses

Brave was Epicharis before the sword,
Being richly endowed with divine grace.

Saint Epicharis (or Eparchia) was from Rome, and during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, in the year 298, she was arrested as a Christian by the Prefect Caesar.

How A Christian Can Live in Society Without Being Scandalized


St. Paisios the Athonite (+ 1994) was asked:

"Elder, how can someone today live rightly in society, as a Christian, without being scandalized by those who live far from God?"

"Why should they be scandalized by others who are not close to God? If such a person was in a family of six to eight children, and one or two of them were swept away by Satan and lived a sinful life, would this person be scandalized by their sinful life?"

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Two Dimensions of Love and the Worship of the Ego


By Fr. Panagiotis Rodis

"Whoever says they love God yet hates their brother is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother, whom they can see, cannot love God, whom they cannot see. And this is the command He has given us: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother." - 1 Jn. 4:20-21


"This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands." - 1 Jn. 5:2

With these words the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, whom the Church honors today, gives us the two dimensions of love, and urges us to be characterized by these two forms of love: love for God and love for neighbor.

Saint John the Cave-Dweller, Who Lived in Asceticism in Sia of Cyprus

St. John the Cave-Dweller (Feast Day - September 26)

About three kilometers northeast of the village of Sia in the Nicosia district of Cyprus, towards the direction of the village of Alampra, there is a ruined church next to a river, which is dedicated to a "Saint John". North of this ruined church there has recently been built a new church dedicated again to a Saint John. The local residents dedicated the latter to Saint John the Theologian.

Righteous Gideon, the Judge of Israel

Righteous Gideon the Judge (Feast Day - September 26)

Verses

Although Gideon did not behold Your birth,
He foresaw O Christ Your birth as a type.

Gideon was from the tribe of Manasseh and his father's name was Joash. One day the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said to him, "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!" Gideon said to Him, "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles that our fathers told us about, saying, 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites" (Judg. 6:12-13).

Friday, September 25, 2015

St. Seraphim of Vyritsa and the Woman who had 18 Abortions


There once lived in Leningrad a woman with her husband. Both were physicians. During World War 2 they were both at the front. Her husband really wanted to have children, but she did not. She had undergone eighteen abortions. Eventually her husband left her and found another woman.

When she returned to Leningrad after the war she could not find work. She did not even have a home to live in, since her previous house belonged to her husband. Literally she was homeless. As a member of the communist party she appealed to various organizations, but no one anywhere helped her. Despair overcame her so much that she thought about committing suicide.

A Plan of St. Paisios the Athonite to Repeal the Abortion Law in Greece


By Hieromonk Christodoulos the Athonite

A congressman one day called me and asked me to go down to the cell of the Elder [Paisios] for the following reason:

"Please ask the Elder," he told me: "Should I make a request to Congress to lift the law on abortion? What is his opinion? Whatever reply he gives you, please, convey it to me, so I can see what I should do."

I went to the Elder and conveyed the question of the pious congressman. He responded to me:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fr. George Florovsky on St. Silouan the Athonite

St. Silouan the Athonite

Below is Fr. George Florovsky's preface to Elder Sophrony's book on St. Silouan titled The Undistorted Image, and was written in 1958, while Fr. George served as a Professor at Harvard Divinity School and Holy Cross School of Theology. Fr. Florovsky had personally known St. Silouan on Mount Athos and his photograph had hung in his study (Andrew Blane, Georges Florovsky: Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Churchman, p. 298.).

The Cave Chapel of Saint Silouan the Athonite in Meteora


Below the Monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapavsa in Meteora, in a natural cave, can be found the Chapel of Saint Silouan the Athonite, which was established by Archimandrite Polycarpos Venetis, current Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Nicholas. On the feast of St. Silouan on September 24th, an all-night vigil takes place here to celebrate his memory.

Praying for the Reposed Non-Christians and Non-Orthodox


By John Sanidopoulos

Though liturgical prayers on behalf of the departed are reserved for baptized Orthodox Christians only in the Orthodox Church, private prayer made on behalf of those that reposed without holy Baptism or repentance may be seen in the lives of several saints.

In the life of St. Thecla, the first century martyr and follower of the Apostle Paul, we read of her arrest in Antioch during which time she was kept in the custody of Tryphina, a rich noblewoman who although now a Christian, her daughter Falconilla reposed while they were pagans. One night Tryphina beheld her daughter in a dream, who said: "My mother, love the stranger, Thecla. Take her as your daughter in my place, for she is the handmaid of God. She can entreat the Lord to place me with the righteous." When she awoke she related the matter to Thecla and asked her to pray for her daughter. Straightway, Thecla raised her hands in prayer, and uttered with tears: "My Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the true and living God, hearken unto Your handmaiden and grant rest to the soul of Falconilla in life eternal, according to Your holy will."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Holy New Martyr Nicholas the Huckster from Karpenisi (+ 1672)

St. Nicholas of Karpenisi (Feast Day - September 23)

Verses

Nicholas sold everything below,
And acquired Christ above with the sword.

Nicholas was born in the town of Karpenisi in Greece to pious parents (according to tradition he belonged to the Karanikas family), who raised him to be pious and educated.

At the age of fifteen he went to Constantinople where he worked in his father's general variety store at a place called Tachta Kale (this is why he is called "the Huckster," or in Greek "Pantopolos"). His father, however, wanted him to be educated, so he had his son tutored in the Turkish language by a well-educated Muslim neighbor who was a barber.

Synaxarion for the Conception of the Honorable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John


On the twenty-third of this month [September], the Conception of the Honorable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

Verses

The man received a prophetic oracle from the Archangel,
You will beget a Prophet, and even greater than the prophets.
On the twenty-third the Forerunner appeared and received the womb.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Youth and the Parish


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Within the Church and in the space of the Parish, the youth, even if they have been let down by society and their family, are able to find an authentic community in Christ, and the interest of a real father. Of course, in the Church there can also be errors and fall short of what should be expected, but ultimately that which has value is that the Church is not an organization, but a divine-human organism, since it is the Body of Christ. We know very well that the wounds of the Cross on the resurrected Body of Christ are signs of its glory. By these wounds the Apostle Thomas beheld the Divinity of Christ, according to Saint Gregory Palamas.

Saint Phocas the Wonderworker, Bishop of Sinope

St. Phocas the Wonderworker (Feast Day - September 22)

Verses

The soap in the bath was divided in two for Phocas,
So the bath became both a contest and a cleansing.
On the twenty-second Phocas was killed in a bath.

Saint Phocas was born in the city of Sinope on the coast of the Black Sea. His father was a shipbuilder called Pamphilius and his mother's name was Maria. From a young age he was made worthy to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, and was able to work paradoxical miracles. He later became Bishop of Sinope, and brought many unbelievers to the light of divine knowledge, both by his inspired words and supernatural wonders. Till his last breath he taught the people and worked miracles.

Saint Paraskeva (or Pasha) Ivanovna of Sarov - Diveyevo (+ 1915)

St. Paraskeva of Sarov (Feast Day - September 22)

She came from a peasant family of the Tambov province, and was called Irina. Her parents gave her in marriage and she lived for fifteen years with her husband, without bearing any children. Five years later her husband died, and Irina suffered much. While on a pilgrimage in Kiev, she came to abandon the world forever and decided to devote her life to God alone. In accordance with the providence of God, the landowners expelled her, and for five years she lived in her native village on the street, suffering privation. Finally, she was secretly tonsured with the name Paraskeva in Kiev. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Was the Prophet Jonah Really Swallowed By a Whale?


By John Sanidopoulos

Many Christians are inclined to interpret the story of Jonah in the Old Testament as an allegory that was never meant to be understood as actual history. However, allegories or parables in the Bible are always either said to be so, or made evident in the context. The Book of Jonah, however, is written as a historical tale with a historical prophet mentioned in II Kings 14:25 and confirmed to have existed by Jesus Christ in Matthew 12:40-41. Christ here compares the experience of Jonah to His own approaching death and resurrection.

Saint Platon Aivazidis (+ 1921)

St. Platon Aivazidis (Feast Day - September 21)

Saint Platon Aivazidis was born in Patmos in 1850 to poor and pious parents. At the age of fifteen he became a novice in the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and graduated from Patmiada School.

Saint Jonah the Sabbaite, Father of Saints Theodore and Theophanes the Branded

St. Jonah the Presbyter (Feast Day - Gr. September 21; Slav. September 22)

Verses

Jonah left the place where his life was unstable,
Finding a place both stable and sure.

Our venerable Father Jonah was a presbyter in the year 829, and the father according to the flesh of the most venerable and most blessed Confessors, namely Theodore and Theophanes the Branded, whom Theophilos the Iconomach branded on the forehead with twelve iambic verses.

Holy Prophet Jonah as a Model for our Lives

Prophet Jonah (Feast Day - September 21)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Prophet Jonah was the son of Amittai and lived during the reigns of Amaziah of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel. He was from Gath-Hepher, of the tribe of Zebulun. His prophetic book, which is read in Orthodox churches on Great Saturday morning, is different from that of the other prophets, because it only refers to events in the life of the Prophet himself, which, of course, is associated with his mission. As it is well known, he was sent by God to the populated city of Nineveh to preach repentance. But instead of going where God sent him, Jonah boarded a ship to go to Tarshish, thinking that by doing this he could escape his mission. What follows is well known: By divine economy there was a storm at sea, and Jonah was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a large fish, remaining in its belly for three days. On the third day, by God's command, the large fish vomited Jonah onto dry land. Then God taught him His love for humanity by means of a plant, which grew with divine assistance and protected him from the sun and then dried up on its own. Then God said to Jonah: "You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left — and also many animals?" (Jon. 4:10).

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Synaxarion of the Great Martyr Eustathios, With Theopisti, Agapios and Theopistos


On the twentieth of this month, we remember the Holy Martyr Eustathios and those with him, Theopisti his wife, and Agapios and Theopistos his sons.

Verses

Eustathios burns with his offspring in a bronze ox,
And you, O Word, save the whole race.
On the twentieth Eustathios with his wife and his sons were burned.

This Great Martyr of Christ, Eustathios, was a most illustrious general of Rome, during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the year 100. He was famously recognized by others for his virtue, his way of life and thought, and he was merciful and compassionate to the poor. He was first called Plakidas, and his wife was Tatiani.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Letter of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi to the Seminarians of Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston in 1959

Elder Jospeh of Vatopaidi in 1961 at New Skete

I have translated a letter below from the archives of Vatopaidi Monastery that was written by the late Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi (+ 2009) which he sent to the students of Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1959 at the request of a certain professor of this school. The request was made for the renowned Elder Joseph the Hesychast to write the letter to the students, but due to his failing health which brought about his repose a few months later (August 15, 1959), he had his disciple the monk Joseph write it. We do not know exactly the professor who requested this letter, but three professors who had deep ties with Mount Athos that could have requested this letter at the time were Fr. John Romanides, Dr. Constantine Cavarnos and Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Saint Eumenios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Gortyna

St. Eumenios (Evmenios, Eumenes) the Wonderworker (Feast Day - September 18)

Verses

Eumenios the gentle eye of Gortyna,
Has looked upon the Lord’s all-kindly eye.
On the eighteenth Eumenios the great-hearted died.

From his early years, Saint Eumenios gave himself entirely to a life along the narrow path of austere ascesis and extreme renunciation, that he fittingly combined with deep humility and all the virtues. His countenance was always bathed in tears and no one ever heard him find fault with anyone, or give so much as a hearing to gossip. Seeing that he fulfilled all righteousness, the people of Gortyna constrained him to become their Bishop in 668. As the sixth Bishop of Gortyna, he accomplished everything that belongs to that office wisely, in all things obedient to the Holy Spirit, working many miracles by his prayers and shepherding his flock with great care and love.

Saint Romylos of Ravanica (+ 1375)

St. Romylos (Feast Day - September 18)

By Fr. Makarios of Simonopetra

Saint Romylos was born in 1300 in the Danubian town of Vidin to pious parents, a Greek [Roman] father and a Bulgarian mother. In holy Baptism he was named Rajko [‘Man of Paradise’]. From his early years he displayed a desire for learning and his teachers, amazed at his wisdom and prudence, called him ‘child elder’. When he became a man, in order to avoid the marriage his parents had planned for him, he departed in secret to a monastery in the region of Trnovo. There, after the canonical testing, he was clothed in the small schema with the name Romanos, and served with great reverence in the church as ecclesiarch.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Cave of Saint Sophia in Kythera


In Mylopotamos, above a picturesque bay, is the Cave of Saint Sophia, the largest of the three eponymous caves of Kythera. The other two are located in Kalamos and Agia Pelagia respectively. Indeed, according to local legends these caves joined together.

Saint Joachim I the Pany, Patriarch of Alexandria (+ 1567)

St. Joachim the Plany (Feast Day - September 17)

Saint Joachim the Pany (Greek for "Excellent" or "Famous"), the first Patriarch of Alexandria after the Turkish conquest of Egypt (1517) when Sultan Selim I (1512-1520) defeated the Mamluks, was born in Athens on August 6th in 1448 and lived as a monk at the Holy Monastery of Sinai and the Lavra of Saint Savvas the Sanctified in Palestine.

He rose to the Apostolic Throne of Saint Mark in August 1487 when he was 38 years old. When Egypt was occupied by Sultan Selim I, Patriarch Joachim received a firman or guarantee securing all Patriarchal privileges, ending the persecutions of the Christians by the previous Arab rulers.

Saint Theodote Who Was Martyred at Nicaea

St. Theodoti at Nicaea (Feast Day - September 17)

Verses

God given grace makes Theodote,
Fervent and keenly eager for the sharp sword.

Theodote, the holy martyr,1 hailed from the region of Pontos. She lived during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235). In 222, the emperor dispatched Simplicius to act as governor of Cappadocia. The new governor, as one of his notorious duties, launched a persecution against the Christians.

When Simplicius was informed about Theodote, he learned that she was exceedingly wealthy and notable. Thus, the holy woman was made to stand before Simplicius. Since she was unwilling to renounce the Faith of Christ, they suspended her from a high place and lacerated her sides for many hours. However, the holy Theodote in nowise sensed any pain. Instead, she glorified God, so it appeared as though another were suffering martyrdom not her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saint Melitini the Martyr

St. Melitini (Feast Day - September 16)

Verses

Melitini's head was struck off by a sword,
Spilling her blood for Christ like sweet honey.

Saint Melitini (or Melitine, Melitina) hailed from Marcianopolis in Thrace, during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161), when Antiochus was governor (160). Since the ever-memorable contestant underwent many torments by order of Antiochus, who was unable to convince her to renounce her faith in Christ, for this reason she was remanded to the wife of the governor, in the hopes that through her flatteries and falsehoods she would soften.

A Description of the Martyrdom of St. Euphemia Based on a Fourth Century Icon

Fragment of a 13th or 14th cent. icon of St. Euphemia found during an excavation of her Martyrion in 1942 and now in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

In the late fourth century Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, wrote an ekphrasis (a verbally artistic description of a work of art) in which he describes in a lively manner a large painting of the martyrdom of St. Euphemia in a church near her tomb (probably in Chalcedon). This description was read into the official record of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea during its sixth session in 787 to confirm the early use and veneration of icons prior to Iconoclasm.

The entire text of the Ekphrasis on the Holy Martyr Euphemia by Asterius of Amasea can be read here. Below is his introduction to the description of the painting, as quoted at the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, in which he explains who St. Euphemia is and how even in the fourth century this painting was used by clergy as a means to teach the faithful, alongside a sermon, about the martyrdom of St. Euphemia (translated text edited by me  (J.S.) based on the original Greek text).

Saint Kassianos of Glyfia, Who Lived in Asceticism in Alektora

St. Kassianos of Glyfia (Feast Day - September 16)

This Saint is mentioned by the Cypriot historian of the 15th century, Leontios Machairas, in his Chronicle, where he writes: "Close to the village of Alektora, at a place called Glyfia, there is the tomb of Saint Kassianos as well as his relic, and his memory is celebrated on September 16."

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Saint Symeon, Archbishop of Thessaloniki (+ 1429)

St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (Feast Day - September 15)

Saint Symeon, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, is one of the most important figures of the Orthodox Church in the later Roman period prior to the fall of Constantinople and Thessaloniki to the Ottomans. We do not have much information about his life. He was born in the latter half of the fourteenth century in Constantinople. After completing his education he entered the monastic life in a monastery of Constantinople, probably in that which was founded by the Xanthopoulos brothers.

Saint Porphyrios the Actor

St. Porphyrios the Mime (Feast Day - September 15)

Verses

Persuaded to mock Baptism, you mock error,
Being cleansed Porphyrios, and beheaded by the sword.

Saint Porphyrios was an actor in the days of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). In the course of his birthday celebration, the Emperor persuaded Porphyrios to mimic and make fun of the Christian Mysteries, specifically Holy Baptism.

Hence, Porphyrios entered into a font with water, and cried out: "The servant of God Porphyrios is baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." And having immersed himself into the water, he got out and put on the white robe of the newly-illumined, crying out: "Now I am a Christian."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Holy New Martyr Makarios the New (+ 1507)

St. Makarios the New (Feast Day - September 14)

Verses

You are Makarios and blessed is the place,
Where you died through martyrdom.

We do not know where Saint Makarios was from or who his parents were. He was a disciple of Patriarch Nephon II of Constantinople (+ 1508 - Aug. 11) and accompanied him, together with Saint Ioasaph (+ 1516 - Oct. 26), on his long and fruitful missionary journeys to Macedonia and Hungarovlachia. In 1505 they settled at Vatopaidi Monastery on Mount Athos where they lived for two years.

The Honor Due to the Cross in the Canons of the Church


Synod in Trullo, known as Penthekti or Quinisext (A.D. 692)

Canon 73

Seeing that the life-giving Cross has shown us the way to salvation, we ought to make every endeavor to render the honor deserved to that which has been the means whereby we have been saved from the old fall. Hence both in mind and in word and in sentiment paying it veneration, we by all means command that imprints of the Cross on the ground made by some persons be erased, lest the symbol signifying the trophy of victory to us be desecrated by being trodden upon by people walking over the ground. We therefore decree that henceforth those who make the sign or imprint of the Cross upon the ground shall be excommunicated.

Synaxarion for the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-Creating Cross


Synaxarion for the Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-Creating Cross1

Verses

Exalting the neck O Savior,
Creation sees the Cross exalted.
On the fourteenth the Wood of the Cross is exalted.

Constantine the Great and Equal to the Apostles, first among the emperors of ancient Rome, accepted Christianity. While in the midst of battle, according to some against Magnentius in Rome, or according to others against the Scythians at the Danube River,2 he saw that the armies of the enemy were greater in number than his own, and this caused distress and fear. Finding himself in this situation, there appeared in the afternoon the form of the Cross in the sky, marked by stars. And encircling the Cross were letters, also inscribed by stars in Roman, namely Latin letters,3 which said the following: "Conquer by this."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Saint Cornelius the Centurion

St. Cornelius the Centurion (Feast Day - September 13)

Verses

From a life of unbelief you led Cornelius,
The first-fruits of the faithful of the nations, my Christ.

Soon after the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross and His Ascension into Heaven, a centurion by the name of Cornelius settled at Caesarea in Palestine. He had lived previously in Thracian Italy. Although he was a gentile, he distinguished himself by deep piety and good deeds, as the holy Evangelist Luke says (Acts 10:1). According to St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, he was not a pagan, but a gentile who practiced the religion of the Jews, like those Greeks mention in John 12:20-26. In fact, St. Nikodemos says that Cornelius was one of those Greeks praised by the Lord. The Lord did not disdain his virtuous life, and so led him to the knowledge of truth and to faith in Christ.

Once, Cornelius was praying in his home. An angel of God appeared to him and said that his prayer had been heard and accepted by God. The angel commanded him to send people to Joppa to find Simon, also called Peter. Cornelius immediately fulfilled the command.

While those people were on their way to Joppa, the Apostle Peter was at prayer, and he had a vision: three times a great sheet was lowered down to him, filled with all kinds of beasts and fowl. He heard a voice from Heaven commanding him to eat everything. When the apostle refused to eat food which Jewish Law regarded as unclean, the voice said: “What God has cleansed, you must not call common” (Acts 10:15).

Through this vision the Lord commanded the Apostle Peter to preach the word of God to the pagans. He understood that "God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him" (Acts 10:34-35). When the Apostle Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius in the company of those sent to meet him, he was received with great joy and respect by the host together with his kinsmen and comrades.

Cornelius fell down at the feet of the apostle and requested to be taught the way of salvation. Peter talked about the earthly life of Jesus Christ, and spoke of the miracles and signs worked by the Savior, and of His teachings about the Kingdom of Heaven. Then Peter told him of the Lord’s death on the Cross, His Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, Cornelius believed in Christ and was baptized with all his family.


He retired from the world and went preaching the Gospel together with the Apostle Peter, who made him a bishop. When the Apostle Peter, together with his helpers Timothy and Cornelius, was in the city of Ephesus, he learned of a particularly vigorous idol-worship in the city of Skepsis, in the region of Troas. Lots were drawn to see who would go there, and Cornelius was chosen.

In the city lived a ruler by the name of Demetrios, learned in the ancient Greek philosophy, hating Christianity and venerating the pagan gods, in particular Apollo and Zeus. Learning about the arrival of Cornelius in the city, he immediately summoned him and asked him the reason for his coming. Cornelius answered that he came to free him from the darkness of ignorance and lead him to knowledge of the True Light.

Demetrios, not comprehending the meaning of what was said, became angry and demanded that he answer each of his questions. When Cornelius explained that he served the Lord and that the reason for his coming was to announce the Truth, the prince became enraged and demanded that Cornelius offer sacrifice to the idols.

The Saint asked to be shown the gods. When he entered the pagan temple, Cornelius turned towards the east and uttered a prayer to the Lord. There was an earthquake, and the temple of Zeus and the idols situated in it were destroyed. All the populace, seeing what had happened, were terrified.

Demetrios was even more vexed and began to take counsel together with those approaching him, about how to destroy Cornelius. They bound the Saint and took him to prison for the night. At this point, one of his servants informed Demetrios that his wife Evanthia and child Demetrian had perished beneath the rubble of the destroyed temple.

After a certain while, one of the pagan priests, by the name of Barbates, reported that he heard the voice of the wife and son somewhere in the ruins and that they were praising the God of the Christians. The pagan priest asked that the imprisoned one be released, in gratitude for the miracle worked by Cornelius, and the wife and son of the Demetrios remained alive.

The joyful Demetrios hastened to the prison in the company of those about him, declaring that he believed in Christ and asked them to bring his wife and son out of the ruins of the temple. Cornelius went to the destroyed temple, and through prayer the suffering were freed.

After this the ruler Demetrios, and all his relatives and comrades accepted holy Baptism. Cornelius lived for a long time in this city, converted all the pagan inhabitants to Christ, and made Eunomios a presbyter in service to the Lord. Cornelius died in old age and was buried not far from the pagan temple he destroyed.

Close by his tomb a plant sprang up that healed every sickness. When his relics were translated to the church built nearby in his honor, it moved of its own accord to a position near the altar.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O blessed Cornelius, thou wast distinguished in works of righteousness and received the enlightenment of godliness, and wast a fellow labourer with the Apostles, for thou didst share their work and preach Christ's incarnation to all. With them pray that all who honour thee may be saved.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
O inspired Cornelius, the Church has received thee as a first-fruit of the Gentiles, and thou hast illumined her with thy works.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Two Monasteries Associated With St. Photios Recently Discovered

St. Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople

By John Sanidopoulos

The Lost Island of Vordonisi

There are nine islands (Prince’s Islands) on the southern coast of Istanbul: Büyükada, Heybeliada (Halki), Burgazada, Kınaliada, Sedef Adasi, Kasikadasi, Yassiada, Sivriada, Tavsanadasi. In fact, there is another one that we can’t see on the surface today: Vordonas, Vordonisi or Horeke Rocks as the fishermen call it.

Saint Daniel of Thasos

St. Daniel the Thasian (Feast Day - September 12)

Verses

Daniel the new did not allow entrance to the assaults of the passions,
As the earlier Daniel with the teeth of the lion.
On the twelfth Daniel departed this life.

Our Holy Father Daniel was born in Thasos (Thassos) during the time of Iconoclasm in the reign of Leo V the Armenian (813-820) around the year 813, and was a contemporary of Saint Ioannikios the Great (Nov. 4). He was born of pious parents who raised him to love virtue, wisdom, temperance and humility. When he came of age he desired to withdraw from the world and live in solitude in unceasing prayer and fasting. For this reason he found a cave on the small island next to Thasos called Krambousa. As it is impossible to keep a brightly shining lamp hidden, his fame as a virtuous ascetic soon spread, and around him gathered many disciples. Obedient to the will of God for sending him these men in search of guidance in the spiritual life, he established a monastery on the island, making as it were a city in the wilderness.

Saint Kournoutas, Who Lived as an Ascetic in Aheran

St. Kournoutas of Cyprus (feast Day - September 12)

In Cyprus, when people want to say that something will never happen or take place, they use the following saying: "It will happen on the name day of Saint Kournoutas." Most people in Cyprus believe that Saint Kournoutas does not exist and therefore is not celebrated in the Greek Orthodox calendar. However, Saint Kournoutas actually does exist and he does have a name day and is honored by the Church. In older times, Saint Kournoutas was widely honored in Cyprus, as the great number of ruined churches on the island that carry his name testify. These can especially be found in Paphos and its villages, such as Geroskipou, Salamis, Souskiou, Polemi and elsewhere.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Blessed Life and Death of Elder Arsenios Machairiotis (+ September 11, 2004)


The Saint-loving Blessed Elder Arsenios Machairiotis

By Archimandrite Ephraim,
Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery

The blessed Fr. Arsenios Machairiotis, in the world known as Nicholas Patsalos, was born in 1969.

In 1986 he went to study Theology in Thessaloniki. From a young age he loved God very much, which later in life increased even more.

He loved monasticism, and experienced this particular call and attraction from God.

Often he visited Mount Athos, especially New Skete and Vatopaidi Monastery, and he connected with the blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi.

This is how we came to know him personally, when he visited New Skete as a student. We remember that he would listen with much longing to the words of our Elder Joseph.

Saint Theodora of Alexandria, Who Struggled in the Guise of a Man

St. Theodora of Alexandria (Feast Day - September 11)

Verses

Theodora was a male in dress and mind,
And the great mind she shames before the end.
On the eleventh Theodora took her last repose.

"The eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding all the ways of men, and considering the most secret parts. He knew all things before they were created." - Eccles. 23

The Lord likened the Kingdom of Heaven to ten virgins, which is most evidently true of the ten holy women renowned in the Church for having led the ascetic life disguised in male monasteries as men. Saint Theodora, whose name means "gift of God", and who lived in Alexandria in the reign of Emperor Zeno (474-491), is one of these ten women (among others).

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