Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Synaxis of Panagia Lykourisiotissa in Skoutera of Agrinio


It is unknown when the original Monastery was built or how it functioned. The history of the Holy Monastery of Panagia Lykourissis includes some very impressive events, such as the "coincidence" that the wonderworking icon of the Theotokos as well as the relics of saints were both found by hunters centuries apart. The history we know begins in 1638, during the Ottoman Occupation, when the village of Skoutera had ten houses and was opposite the location of the present Monastery, up in the mountains to escape dangers from invaders.

In the first case a hunter in 1638 found the icon of the Panagia that was guarded by a wild dog (in Greek called a "rissos"), which as soon as the icon was discovered fell down dead. It seems therefore that the name "Lykourissis" comes from a combination of the Greek words "lykos" and "rissos," both of which imply a wild dog or wolf.

5 Testified Miracles of the Holy Zoni of the Theotokos


1. The Healing of Elder Philotheos Zervakos

The blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos describes how he was cured of unbearable pains which caused him constant headaches. Here is how he recounts the event.

Synaxarion of the Placement of the Honorable Zoni in the Holy Coffin


On the thirty-first of this month [August], we commemorate the placement of the Honorable Zoni* in the Holy Coffin, of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos, in her revered home which is in Chalkoprateia, returned from the Diocese of Zela during the reign of Emperor Justinian in the year 530, and the miracle that happened at the placement of this Honorable Zoni to Empress Zoe, the wife of the famously reigned Leo the most-wise emperor, in the year 886.

Verses

Like an all-golden garland, O august Virgin,
I set your Girdle on the year’s end as adornment.
On the thirty-first, they enshrined the Girdle of the All-Pure One.

Holy Zoni (Girdle) of the Theotokos Resource Page

Placement of the Holy Zoni of the Theotokos (Feast Day - August 31)

Verses

Like an all-golden garland, O august Virgin,
I set your Girdle on the year’s end as adornment.
On the thirty-first, they enshrined the Girdle of the All-Pure One.

Synaxarion of the Placement of the Honorable Zoni in the Holy Coffin

The Holy Girdle (Zoni) of the Theotokos

Dormition of the Theotokos Resource Page

Saint Thomas the Apostle Resource Page

"Miracles By The Holy Girdle": The Prologue

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Saint Phantinos the Younger of Calabria, Wonderworker of Thessaloniki

St. Phantinos the Wonderworker (Feast Day - August 30)

Verses

Phantinos the wonderworker entered the earth,
From above he rains down upon us miraculous manna.
On the thirtieth the life of Phantinos ended.

Saint Phantinos was from Calabria in Italy and was born in the year 902. His father was named George and his mother was Vryaini. From childhood he dedicated himself to God, and when he reached eight years of age he entered the monastery of Saint Elias and became his disciple. There he undertook the labor of acquiring the virtues. He was tonsured a monk and served as the cook of the monastery. And although he was continuously around food, in the second year of his monastic life he only ate once a week some raw vegetables and legumes. Having conquered gluttony and thoroughly purified himself of his passions, he was elevated to serve as ecclesiarch.

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Sarmatas

St. Sarmatas of Thebaid (Feast Day - August 30)

Verses

An Angel of God the Word came down,
Saying "Arise Sarmatas follow and rejoice."

Life

Our Venerable Father Sarmatas was one of the early disciples of Abba Anthony, living near him in the desert of Mount Clisma near the Red Sea. After living a life of strict asceticism and prayer, he was martyred by a group of invading Saracens in the year 357.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Saint Vlasios of Akarnania Has Been Canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate


Pantelis Albanis
August 29, 2016

Joyous bells have been ringing today in Palairos of Aitoloakarnania at the news of the canonization of Saint Vlasios by the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. From noontime the faithful began to flock to the Church of Saint Vlasios in Sklavaina, where the Saint was martyred and his tomb can be found, as well as to the Church of Saint Paraskevi in Palairos, where his sacred relics are kept.

Genesis 24 and the Mission of John the Baptist


By John Sanidopoulos

The mission of John the Baptist is best summed up in Genesis 24, where we read about the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah. There we read, in summary, how when Abraham was advanced in years, he told his servant to go to his homeland in Nahor and find there a wife for his son Isaac, so that he would not take a wife from among the local Canaanites. Abraham further told his servant that he was to bring the woman who was to be Isaac's wife back to him in Canaan, and not allow Issac to go to Abraham's homeland, and an angel would assist him on his path. If the woman however refused to return back with the servant, then the servant would be free of his oath. The servant therefore took the oath, and set on his journey in search of Isaac's bride, accompanied by ten camels and choice gifts for the bride to be.

Josephus on the Beheading of John the Baptist


Today is the feast of the beheading of Saint John the Baptist, an event which is mentioned in a source other than the Gospels. Here is the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote circa 93-94 AD regarding the death of the Baptist in his Jewish Antiquities:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saint Susanna of Georgia as a Model for our Lives

St. Susanna of Georgia (Feast Day - August 28)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Susanna, or Shushanik as she she was affectionately called, lived in the fifth century. She was from Iberia, known today as Georgia, and the king at the time was Vakhtang I Gorgasali. Shushanik's husband, Varsken, was a feudal lord (pitiakhsh) of Kartli in Georgia. He was a Christian, but only by name. Eventually, he denied his faith and for no special reason subjected himself to the king of Persia and embraced the fire-worshiping faith of the Persians. He also asked his wife, who was a woman of God, to deny her faith. She rebuked him for his apostasy and then boldly confessed her faith in the true God. He then had her harshly tortured in an unforgiving way, and full of wounds she was cast into prison, which was a sunless dungeon. There the Saint spent the last six years of her life with patience, fasting and prayer.

Saint Moses the Ethiopian Resource Page

Holy Abba Moses the Ethiopian (Feast Day - August 28)

Verses

You affirmed the saying and died, Moses the Black,
"Men see with the eyes, God with the heart."
You were buried on the twenty-eighth Moses the Ethiopian.

The Life of Abba Moses the Ethiopian

The Sayings of Abba Moses the Ethiopian

On the Immediate and Ultimate Goals of the Christian Life (Abba Moses the Ethiopian)

Saint Moses the Ethiopian as a Model for our Lives

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Why Does Saint Phanourios Hold a Candle in his Icons?


The iambic verses for the Synaxarion of Saint Phanourios say:

Phanourios bestows light upon all the faithful,
Even though he long lay in the darkness of the earth.

When the icon of Saint Phanourios was discovered in a dark cave of Rhodes centuries ago, he was brought to light from obscurity, and he was depicted in the icon holding a lit candle. The fact that an icon of a previously unknown Saint was discovered which revealed things about his life and attributes, as well as the fact that his name means "one who manifests" or more accurately "one who brings to light," tells us that Saint Phanourios is depicted holding a lit candle because he reveals lost things and illumines us with his grace.

Commemoration of the Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Saint Philip

Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Feast Day - August 27)

Verses

A Eunuch man questions the parable,
He is whitened, and the Ethiopian is born.

The Synaxarion of Constantinople designates that on August 27th we commemorate the Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Saint Philip the Apostle, as recorded in Acts 8:26-40. This commemoration is probably due to the fact that on August 28th we celebrate the feast of the Venerable Moses the Ethiopian (330–405).

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Poemen the Great

St. Poemen the Great (Feast Day - August 27)

Verses

As from the open mouth of a wolf Poemen snatches,
The lives of the sheep of the exceedingly great Shepherd.
On the twenty-seventh Poemen is mourned as a great shepherd.

Life

Our Venerable Father Poemen (340-450) was an Egyptian by birth and a great ascetic of Egypt. As a boy, he visited the most renowned spiritual men and, from them, gathered tangible knowledge as a bee gathers honey from flowers. Poemen once begged the elder Paul to take him to Elder Paisius. Seeing Poemen, Paisius said to Paul: "This child will save many; the hand of God is with him." In time, Poemen was tonsured a monk and attracted two of his brothers to the monastic life as well. Once his mother came to see her sons, but Poemen did not permit her to enter, but through the door asked her: "Do you desire more to see us here or there in eternity?" The mother withdrew with joy saying: "Since I will surely see you there, then I do not desire to see you here." In the monastery of these three brothers at Scete, governed by Abba Anoub, Poemen's eldest brother, this was their Rule: at night, they spent four hours of working with their hands, four hours of sleep and four hours of reading the Psalter. During the day, from morning until noon, they spent in alternating work and prayer; from noon until Vespers they spent reading and, in the afternoon, they prepared supper for themselves: the only meal in twenty-four hours and that usually consisted of some vegetables. Concerning their life, Poemen himself speaks: "We ate that which was given to us. No one ever said: 'Give me something else or I do not want that.' In this manner, we spent our entire life in silence and peace."

Friday, August 26, 2016

An 11th Cent. Georgian Hymn to Saint Joasaph


"A Hymn to the Blessed Iodasaph" was composed by Saint George the Hagiorite (1009-1065), the biographer of Saint Euthymius the Athonite, who made the original translation of The Balavariani into Greek and introduced Barlaam and Joasaph to the Greek speaking world. The hymn was based on material deriving from the Georgian long version of the text, the "Life of the Blessed Iodasaph." He also drew up the Georgian ecclesiastical calendar, according to the Roman models, and in it he entered Barlaam and Joasaph’s names (on 19th May). When Joasaph entered into Greek calendars his day was the 26th of August, and both Barlaam and Joasaph are celebrated in the Slavic calendars on the 19th of November. The hymn is taken from Manuscript No. 42 of the Georgian collection in the Greek Patriarchal Library in Jerusalem, which was copied not later than A.D. 1065.

Saint Joasaph, King of the Indians

St. Joasaph the King of India (Feast Day - Gr. August 26; Slav. November 19)

Verses

Zeal for the kingdom of the King of all,
Inhabited the son of the earthly king.

According to tradition, in the time of Constantine the Great there lived in India a pagan king named Abenner, who had only one son, Joasaph. Abenner was a wise administrator and fearless warrior, loyal to the Indian code of honor, courage and the hatred of Christians.

The Reliquary of Sts. Adrian and Natalia at the Art Institute of Chicago


Reliquary Casket of Saints Adrian and Natalia, c. 1150

Silver and oak core

15.9 x 25.4 x 14.5 cm (6 1/4 x 10 x 5 3/4 in.)

Inscription: MARTIRIS EXIMINI SACRUM/QUI MARTIR FACTUS SPREVIT EUM/[JA]CET HIC ADRIAN (Reliquary of the most excellent martyr who, being made a martyr, was removed; here lies Adrian.)

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Tithoes

St. Tithoes (Feast Day - August 26)

Verses

Tithoes did not have, I suppose, flesh altogether,
And if he had, it wasted away not permitting it food till the grave.

Life

Our Venerable Father Tithoes was a disciple of Saint Pachomius and great among the ascetics of Egypt. He later became abbot of a monastery in Tabennisi. Having lived his entire life in absolute purity, he reposed in peace in either the fourth or fifth century.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Saint Constantia of Paphos

St. Constantia of Paphos (Feast Day - August 25)

Verses

You are glorified as a servant of Hilarion,
And perceived as equal to him in honor, Constantia.

+++

Hilarion entered his dwelling above,
And indeed with him Constantia departed.

On the twenty-fifth she found shelter in paternal salvation.

Our Holy Mother Constantia was from Paphos, and as Saint Jerome writes in his book "The Life of Saint Hilarion" she was a disciple of Saint Hilarion the Great who lived as an ascetic in the village of Episkopi in Paphos. Saint Jerome writes of Hilarion:

Synaxarion of the Return of the Relic of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew


On the twenty-fifth of this month [August], we commemorate the Return of the Relic of the Holy and Glorious Apostle Bartholomew.

Verses

That we the faithful may gather abundant grace,
Bartholomew was found having been hidden.
On the twenty-fifth the body of Bartholomew was found.

It is a suitable time for me, to speak that davidic phrase: "God is wondrous in His saints" (Ps. 67:38 LXX). For I wish to narrate an awesome and extraordinary miracle, that God worked through His Saint. The Holy Apostle Bartholomew, journeyed to various lands, proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, finally arriving at Greater Armenia, where he was crucified. His holy relic was placed by the Christians there inside a sarcophagus, and they hid it in Albanopolis. However, because various healings took place at his sarcophagus, people flocked to it, and were released of their sufferings and diseases. When the Greeks, who were servants of the devil, saw these miracles and healings, they came against the holy sarcophagus, and the apostolic relic contained within. Therefore, when they found an opportunity, they cast the sarcophagus into the sea, along with four other sarcophagi, which contained the relics of four Martyrs: Papian, Lucian, Gregory and Akakios. God economized for this to take place, first, that through their journey covering much of the sea, the waters may be sanctified by them, and second, that the places where these holy relics were distributed to may be blessed. The Holy Apostle Bartholomew passed through the great distance of the Black Sea, then through the narrow depths of the Hellespont, namely the Propontis, and arrived at the Aegean Sea. From there he went towards the Adriatic, and went towards the left to the famous and great island of Sicily, and he was followed by the four sarcophagi of the victorious Martyrs we mentioned previously.

Why There Was No Liturgy at Panagia Soumela on August 15, 2016


Nikos Maginas
August 24, 2016

Projects of renovation being done on the premises of Soumela Monastery in Pontus are the reason why the Divine Liturgy was not celebrated at Panagia Soumela this year, which has taken place annually since 2010.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate was informed last year that there would not be an opportunity to celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos at the historic Monastery in August of 2016. As early as last September the premises of the Monastery have been fenced around. It should be noted that previous restoration work was not appropriate, according to the former Turkish Minister Of Culture and Tourism Ertugrul Gunay.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Did Kosmas the Aitolos Say "Curse the Pope" and "The Pope is the Antichrist"?

Fr. Irenaios Delidimos

By John Sanidopoulos

On 14-15 November 2014 at the Monastery of Vlatadon in Thessaloniki, Fr. Irenaios Delidimos gave a revealing speech titled "Saint Kosmas the Aitolos and the Theological Authority of his Works. An Anniversary: 1714-2014." In one section of this speech he analyzed two phrases attributed to St. Kosmas, in which he supposedly said "Curse the Pope" and "The Pope is the Antichrist," among other things.

Fr. Irenaios begins by stating that in the biography of St. Kosmas by Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotis, certain passages attributed to St. Kosmas were doubted to be authentic by the Metropolitan. Among these, for example, were passages by St. Kosmas in which he allegedly talks about the origins of Judas Iscariot. However, regarding the phrase "Curse the Pope," the Metropolitan passes it over in silence, although he often made comments throughout his book, especially with passages that made a particular impression on him. It seems like he did not know what to do with it, and perhaps the Metropolitan did not like this passage, because it contradicted the Apostle Paul: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Rom. 12:14).

Translation of the Sacred Relic of Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos


On the twenty-fourth of this month [August], we commemorate the Translation of the revered Relic of our Holy Father Dionysios, Archbishop of Aegina, and its return from Strofades to Zakynthos.

Verses

Your offspring now happens to be incorrupt,
Be glad Zakynthos, with extreme gladness.
On the twenty-fourth the body comes healing mortals.

On 17 December 1622 Saint Dionysios reposed in his Monastery on the island of Zakynthos at the age of 75, with a last wish that he be buried in the Church of Saint George on the nearby Strofades islands at Strofades Monastery, where he had been a monk and served as abbot. His wish was carried out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Synaxis of Panagia Agiogalousaina in Chios


The Church of Panagia Agiogalousaina is at the entrance of a cavern in the village of Agio Galas on the island of Chios. It is a small Byzantine-style church with a dome. In the interior there is a wood-carved icon screen and frescoes that once covered the entire church that date to 1721.

Saint Kallinikos I, Patriarch of Constantinople (693-705)

St. Kallinikos of Constantinople (Feast Day - August 23)

Verses

Kallinikos remained pleased in his purpose,
Till the end not being unpleased.

Saint Kallinikos was first a presbyter and skevofylax of the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos of Blachernae. Then because of his virtues he was ordained Patriarch of Constantinople in the year 693, during the reign of Emperor Justinian II (685-695 and 705-711).* Emperor Justinian was toppled from the throne in 695, and after his nose was cut off in the hippodrome** he was sent for imprisonment to Chersonessus. Leontios (695-698) then came to the imperial throne. Then in 698, Tiberius III overthrew Leontios.***

Saint Nicholas the Sicilian

St. Nicholas of Sicily (Feast Day - August 23)

Verses

The victory of honor you received O Nicholas,
Behaving in an upright manner in the trenches of asceticism.

Saint Nicholas was born and raised in Sicily some time prior to the 12th century. From a young age he dedicated himself to God and longed for the monastic life. For this reason he withdrew from his homeland and came to Evia in Greece to find a place to live in asceticism. There he found a rough area, a gorge near the sea, where there was a Monastery of the Theotokos, and there he submitted himself to the abbot.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Prophetic Themes in the Orthodox Ecclesiology of Fr John Romanides


Prophetic Themes in the Orthodox Ecclesiology of Fr John Romanides

By Deacon Geoffrey Ready

Contents

Introduction
(1) Church and Salvation
(2) Membership in the Church
(3) Apostolic Succession
(4) Empirical Truth, Synods, and Ecumenical Dialogue
(5) Church and World
Conclusion
Endnotes
Bibliography

Introduction

Orthodox Christians have forgotten the true nature of the Church. Throughout the Orthodox world today, the Church is variously confused with worldly institutions and political structures. She has come to be seen as simply another one of the world's religious societies, her message of healing and salvation for all reduced to the sphere of private belief and cultural affiliation. Even Orthodox theologians who have attempted to correct people's misconceptions of the Church have often followed Western Christianity's "worldly considerations," making "the dogmas of the Church... the object of logical gymnastics in the classrooms of philosophy."[1] While attempting to show something of the uniqueness of the Orthodox Church, in responding to the demands of ecumenical contact with the Western confessions, these theologians have tended to present the Church in the institutional and structural terms the West understands, and have thus lost sight of her true and organic life in Christ.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Agathonikos of Nicomedia and his Companions



On the twenty-second of this month [August], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Agathonikos, and those with him Zotikos, Zeno, Theoprepios, Akindynos and Severian.

Verses

To Agathonikos
The calling of Agathonikos was most truthful,
Whose victory by the sword cries out goodness.

To Zeno, Theoprepios and Akindynos
The three were steadfast in the instrument of violence,
A machine that unbound them from the much-contriving one.

To Severian
One Martyr was beheaded at the neck by the sword,
Severian is appointed to be beheaded by the sword.

To Zotikos
Behold before us is a new Cyrene,
Who is not forced, but voluntarily bears a cross.

On the twenty-second Agathonikos was beheaded by the sword.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Veneration of the Panagia on the Island of Santorini

Church of Panagia Episkopi in Santorini

By Archimandrite Theophylaktos Marinakis

Barren Santorini proves to be fertile in faith, in churches, in monasteries and chapels.

Regarding the worship, honor and love of the residents of the island, we have received valuable information from the chronicle of the Frenchman Francois Richard, in a publication of his from Paris in 1657, titled Relation de l'Isle de Sant-erini. The traveler, after first referring to the numerous churches of the island, expressing his admiration for the Greek resistance to the Ottoman tyranny and their unbending perseverance in the Christian faith.

He writes:

"As for the churches, there are some 300 (for every 20 residents of Santorini there is a church). One of the main churches is Our Lady of Episkopi, which, according to the people, was built by Alexios Komnenos (1081-1118)."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Elder Sophrony on the Calendar Issue

Mosaic of Adam at the Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Essex

By Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex

Many do not live eternity in Christ, but a paradoxical form of earthly life. When the vision of eternity is absent, time and days become for them the only reality. And they quarrel over calendars. When I was on Athos, the reform of the Calendar took place. The worldwide Church of Christ wanted to determine the time of their lives with the rules identified by the authorities. Before the change of the Calendar the vernal equinox was on March 9, whilst after it was March 22.

The Threefold Task of the Prophet Samuel


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Prophet Samuel had been chosen by God to become Prophet and Judge of the Israelite people with a particular mission. It was a particularly difficult and troubled period. The Philistines posed a fundamental threat to the Israelites. In fact, during Samuel's lifetime the struggle against the Philistines began and the first victories were won, which were, of course, brought to completion in the reign of David. What needs to be stressed yet again is that the Prophet Samuel lived and worked in a very difficult era.

Holy New Martyr Theocharis of Neapolis (+ 1740)

St. Theocharis of Neapolis (Feast Day - August 20)

Saint Theocharis was orphaned at a young age. In 1740 the Ottoman State was at war, and young Theocharis was taken with other Christian boys to a concentration camp to train him as a soldier. There, he was spotted by the judge of Neapolis (Nevsehir) who took a liking to the boy. The judge took Theocharis out of the camp and brought him to work on his estate.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva on the Panagia


Our Church highly honors ours Panagia. I very much love our Panagia. When I was young on the Holy Mountain I very much adored her. I had a small icon of the Panagia under my pillow. Morning and night I embraced her. I lived with her night and day. Whatever happened to me, I resorted to her. What can I tell you? She is better than a mother. There was nothing else I wanted more. She had everything.

Saint Theophanes the New and Wonderworker

St. Theophanes the New (Feast Day - August 19)

Verses

Theophanes showed forth many virtues,
And now his relic brightens Naousa.

Saint Theophanes the New, a native of the city of Ioannina, was born in 1590. As a young man, he received monastic tonsure at Mount Athos in the Docheiariou Monastery. There he cared more for how to save his soul rather than what to eat or drink, and his hidden virtues became manifested to all. He was therefore later chosen abbot of this Monastery because of his lofty virtues.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Body and Athletics in Orthodox Theology (4 of 4)



Acquiring Meaning in Life

Living within fallen society it is natural to deal with all those things that constitute the so-called "leather tunics," namely corruptibility and mortality, and with them we can integrate the asceticism of the body, and even exercise to deal with various problems which arise in the body and for the balancing between physical and psychological strength.

But we can never forget that a Christian with Baptism and their presence in the Church has another higher purpose and higher meaning in life. If people only occupy themselves with lesser meaningful things and not foster a high purpose and higher meaning, then they become disorientated and fall into error. And here are applied the words of the Apostle Paul: "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). Applicable also is another saying of the Apostle Paul: "For physical training is of some benefit, but piety has benefit for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Tim. 4:8).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Experience of the Transfiguration in the Life of the Athonite Monk (5 of 5)



"IN THE LIGHT OF YOUR FACE"

The whole ascetic life of the monk has as its goal soberness, that is, the simplification of the nous and its liberation from thoughts, concepts, or imagination, in such a way as to enable it to focus on itself, taking away from it all the world's distractions, and returning it to its natural place, the heart. When, by God's grace, this unitary state of the human person created in the image of God is restored, then the nous can progress without obstacle toward pure prayer. But, the latter is not the end of the spiritual life. The end of prayer, according to the Holy Fathers, is the ravishing of the nous in the Lord,35 and the illumination of grace through which man becomes himself light and, by adoption, god. Within the abyss of the heart, during the night, the nous of the monk is progressively purified and made transparent, in order that it be enabled to receive the light, like a crystal. It is then that the monk may await the visitation of grace. In the same text, Saint Gregory pursues this theme:

"Thus in leaving things behind, even little by little its ties with the best of them, the nous leaves all existent things completely behind. This ecstasy is distinguished as far superior to the theology that operates through negative reductions. It is the privilege of those who have been clothed with impassibility. But, this is still not union, in that the Paraclete has not yet come from on high to illumine the man of prayer who stands at the very limit of his natural capacities, as in an upper room, awaiting the promise of the Father, that through that revelation He might bear him away in order to bring him to the contemplation of light."36

Righteous Matrona Naumovna: A Heart for the Poor


Most of us spend the better part of our lives accumulating the wherewithal to lead a good life here on earth. How few of us seriously follow the Lord’s admonishment to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. The life of the venerable woman Matrona Naumovna is a striking example of this Gospel precept: "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

As a child Matrona was given to bear a heavy cross of constant deprivation and sorrow. In spite of her youthful years, however, she was not crushed by the burden of her misfortunes. She possessed a courageous and vigorous spirit which enabled her to overcome the various trials she encountered along her path of life. Her sensitive and self-sacrificing nature was enlivened by such warm compassion towards her neighbor that another’s sufferings made her forget entirely the wretchedness of her own circumstances.

Holy Hieromartyr Myron of Cyzicus

St. Myron the Presbyter (Feast Day - August 17)

Verses

"Why do you seek to cut off my head," said Myron,
"For it to be crowned in the future with an all-honorable crown?"
On the seventeenth Myron was beheaded with a sharp sword.

The Holy Hieromartyr Myron was a presbyter in the Achaia region of Greece, and lived in the third century. He specifically suffered in the year 250 during the persecution unleashed by the Emperor Decius (249-251). He was gentle and kind to people, and of a virtuous character, but he was also courageous in the defense of his spiritual children, who loved and honored him. On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, he was celebrating the Divine Liturgy. The local governor, Antipater, came into the church with soldiers and arrested the congregation so as to subject them to torture. Saint Myron began to plead for his flock, accusing the governor of cruelty, and for this the Saint was delivered over to be tortured, while the church was razed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Synaxarion for the Holy Mandylion and Holy Keramion of Edessa


SYNAXARION

On the sixteenth of this month [August], we commemorate the entrance of the acheiropoiton (made without hands) image of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, brought from the city of Edessa to the God-protected Queen of cities (Constantinople).

Verses

For the Mandylion.
While alive your depiction was imprinted onto a cloth,
A final cloth before you entered death.

For the Keramion.
Maker of all, my Christ, a tile once made
By hand now bears your form not made by hand.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Dormition of the Theotokos (Alexandros Papadiamantis)


By Alexandros Papadiamantis

One of the sweetest and most moving feasts of the Christian world is the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, which the Church celebrates today. From the first century, there existed much honor and reverence that the Christians bestowed towards the Virgin Mary. But today's feast is the preeminent commemoration of the Theotokos, being her Dormition.

Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)


By Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
(Delivered on January 31, 1998)

I thank the Lord and the Most Holy Mother of God that He has willed to embellish this feast day of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos through the angelic voices of the children who sang so beautifully. This reminds me of the days of my youth, before the war, when I was a monk in the holy Patriarchate of Pech, the Serbian Zion as some call it. The choir from Pech used to sing the responses at Holy Liturgy every feast day at the monastery. It was a mixed choir, very well organized, and the choir director was a remarkable person. I have heard many choirs from Belgrade and other places, but that choir from Pech was quite extraordinary. Today, when I said, "Blessed is the Kingdom …,” the children responded with "Amen." This reminded me of those days of my youth and it touched my heart.

Synaxarion of the Dormition of the Theotokos


On the fifteenth of this month [August], we commemorate the revered Metastasis of our Most-Glorious Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

Verses

That the world-saving Maiden died is no marvel,
Since, in the flesh, the world’s Maker died also.
God’s Mother lives forever, though she died on the fifteenth.

When our Lord Jesus Christ wanted to receive for Himself His own Mother, three days beforehand He revealed through an Angel (it is said it was the Archangel Gabriel) her Metastasis* from earth to heaven. The Angel came to her and said: "Thus says your Son: 'It is time to receive My Mother to Myself. Wherefore do not be troubled by this, but receive My message with gladness, for you are passing over to life eternal.'" Having learned this, the Theotokos rejoiced with great joy. And therefore moved by her longing to pass over to her Son, she speedily and eagerly went up to the Mount of Olives to pray (the All-Hymned One had the habit of frequently going up to this mountain to pray). This was followed by an amazing wonder. For when the Theotokos went up there, the trees at the peak which were planted there on the mountain bent forward, as if they were animate and rational, and so they venerated her, giving to her that which is proper, revering and honoring the Lady of the world and Mistress.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

“Magnify O my soul, the honorable translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” 
(Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)

Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!

Holy Prophet Micah the Morasthite

Holy Prophet Micah (Feast Day - January 5 & August 14)

Micah, one of the so-called Twelve Minor Prophets, was of the tribe of Judah and from the village of Morasth (Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah) for which he is called the "Morasthite." He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Hosea and the Judean kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Micah was active in Judah from before the fall of Samaria in 722 BC and experienced the devastation brought by Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC. He prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saint Eudocia the Empress, Wife of Emperor Theodosius the Younger

St. Eudocia the Empress (Feast Day - August 13)

Verses

Now Savior as before is suitable to your Father,
When of old you said: "In your good pleasure Father."

Eudocia was born around 400 AD in Athens into a family of Greek descent. Her father, a Greek philosopher named Leontius, taught rhetoric at the Academy of Athens, where people from all over the Mediterranean came to either teach or learn. Eudocia's given name was Athenais, chosen by her parents in honor of the city's protector, the pagan goddess Pallas Athena. Her father was rich and had a magnificent house on the Acropolis with a large courtyard in which young Athenais frequently played as a child.

When Athenais was 12 years old, her mother died and she became her father's comfort, taking on the responsibilities of household chores, raising her siblings and tending to her father. She had two brothers, Gessius and Valerius, who would later receive honors at court from their sister and brother-in-law. In return for her household activities, her father spent time giving her a thorough training in rhetoric, literature and philosophy. He taught her the Socratic virtue of knowledge of moderation, and predicted that she would have a great destiny. She had a gift for memorization, and easily learned the poetry of Homer and Pindar, which her father would recite to her. Both as a teacher and a role model, he had a great impact on her, prepared her for her destiny and influenced the literary work she created after she became Empress.

The Experience of the Transfiguration in the Life of the Athonite Monk (4 of 5)



THE BRIGHT CLOUD

At sunset, after having finished his diakonia, accomplished his daily tasks, and retired to his cell, the monk does not cease to continue living the Transfiguration under the two forms that the Disciples experience in an exemplary manner on the summit of Tabor. While during the liturgical assembly he sees Christ in the light of His glory, and shares with the community and the visible world in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven, when he closes the door of his cell behind him - like the stone rolled up against the entrance of the Lord's tomb (Mk. 15:46) - then, in the depths of the night, he is covered by the cloud. At that moment, alone with God, he truly lives as a "monk," monachos [i.e., solitary]. Every vain glimmering of this world is extinguished - all sensual delights, preoccupations, ideas. The consolation of the brother's presence and the reflected glory of the New Jerusalem in the liturgy have withdrawn from him, and he must confront his own inner depths, the darkness of his passions, his unwavering, the scattering of his nous, and the hardness of his heart. He descends thus into his own inner hell in order to triumph there together with Christ, the conqueror of death.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Holy Martyrs Photios and Aniketos of Nicomedia

Sts. Photios and Aniketos the Martyrs (Feast Day - August 12)

Verses

Aniketos is consumed by the fire with Photios,
In a house of light for those who remained unconquered.
On the twelfth Photios and Aniketos were put to death in the fire.

These Saints flourished during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), and Photios was the nephew of Aniketos. While in Nicomedia, Diocletian spoke publicly and before the senate against Christianity in the year 303, and he presented various instruments of torture in order to terrify the people, for it was his desire to exterminate in whatever way possible those who called upon the name of Jesus Christ in every corner of the empire.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Narration Concerning the Icon of Our Lord Made Without Hands and Maria the Patrician

Fourth Acheiropoieton Image of the Lord (Feast Day - August 11)

Verses

A strange wonder gushes forth numerous wonders,
Indeed the divine form of the wonderworking Logos.

During the reign of the pious Emperor Tiberius (574-582), in the year 576, a great and amazing miracle took place. A woman named Maria, who was from a senatorial family and who loved Christ, and was a patrician according to office, as well as a widow, suffered with a difficult and incurable disease. Despairing therefore of all human help, she dedicated herself to our Lord Jesus Christ, who placed within her heart the following good reasoning: This woman decided to have the Priests that minister to the holy despotic icon of the Lord made without hands called,* pleading for them to come to her. When they arrived, the woman fell at their feet, saying: "I beg you, my masters, because God has forgiven me to be chastised for my many sins, and by this dreadful suffering and incurable disease, for this reason I the miserable one would love, although I am unworthy, to receive into my frugal home through your holy prayers, the despotic and made without hands image of our Lord for forty days, so that perhaps it would incline the Lord's mercy towards me." Knowing the good life and spiritual state of the woman, the Priests brought the holy image to her home, and as soon as they opened the case in which it was contained, the woman fell down and venerated it. She then took a thin fabric of cotton and measured the holy icon, and then placed the fabric over the holy icon, putting it in a clean chest which she fettered, and placed it in the chapel which was in her home. Lighting a bright lamp before the icon, she ministered to it for forty days.

Holy Great Martyr Euplos the Deacon of Catania

St. Euplos the Great Martyr (Feast Day - August 11)

Verses

In his raiment, revered Euplos was a Levite,
In his beheading, a firm soldier.
On the eleventh Euplos was struck with the sword.

Euplos (Euplus, Euplius) was a deacon in Catania, Sicily. Emperor Diocletian (284-305) ordered the governor Calvisianus in Sicily to exterminate any Christians he found there. Calvisianus did not find a single Christian, for the few that were there, hid from the persecutor and did not reveal themselves. Then someone accused Euplos of taking a book to secret Christians and reading to them. This book was the Holy Gospel.

Holy New Martyrs Anastasios and Demetrios the Basketweavers (+ 1816)

Sts. Anastasios and Demetrios of Lesvos (Feast Day - August 11)

Both Anastasios Paneras and Demetrios Begiazis were from the island of Lesvos, with the former born in the village of Asomatos and the latter in the village of Hagiasos. They were probably related to each other, as these villages are situated next to each other.

Anastasios took on the family trade of basket-weaving, and would sell the baskets door to door. When he got older, he decided to go to Asia Minor to make a better living.

Demetrios was from a poor family, and together with his brother Vranas he was orphaned of a father at a young age. Their mother remarried, but their stepfather was very hard on them, often depriving them of food and clothing. For this reason they would often not go home to sleep.

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