Friday, September 30, 2016

History of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and the Conversion of Armenia


History of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and the Conversion of Armenia

By Agathangelos

Prologue

The fervent wish of sailors, as their journey nears its end, is to reach port safely. So amidst surging billows and tempestuous winds they spur on their steeds made of wood and iron and held together by nails. They fly over the mounting waves until, finally escaping the troubled waters, they race to their homelands. They tell their loved ones how they braved the fearful tumult of the sea in order to come back home with the spoils of their perilous sea journey. With their profits they settle debts, free their families from servitude to kings and overlords, and make a name for themselves as being generous and rich.

Holy Martyrs Rhipsimia and Gaiana of Armenia together with their Companions

Sts. Rhipsimia, Gaiana and Those With Them (Feast Day - September 30)

Verses

To Rhipsimia
Rhipsimia by blows was no way pained,
Counting against them numberless crowns.

To Gaiana
Ascetic life crowned Gaiana once,
And now her contest through the sword crowns her.

To the Thirty-Two Virgins
You are honored Trinity by the thrice ten martyrs,
Along with two they died by the sword on your behalf.

To the Seventy Men
Seventy men died by the sword,
Ready to die, if needed, many times.

To the Two Virgins
Two women contain the virtues,
Adorned as athletes in the end by their beheading.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Holy Martyrs Gobdelaha, Dada, Kasdios and Kasdoa of Persia

Sts. Gobdelaha, Dada, Kasdios and Kasdoa (Feast Day - September 29)

Verses

To Gobdelaha
Gobdelaha is pierced by reeds and dies,
Honoring my Christ, who was struck by a reed.

To Dada
Your entire body was hacked in pieces by a sword,
Saving your spirit, Martyr Dada of the Highest.

To Kasdios and Kasdoa
Kasdios and Kasdoa contested as one,
He slain by a blade, while she struck by wood.

Dada was a high officer at the Persian court during the reign of King Shapur II (310-79), and he was also a Christian and relative of the King. When he was sent to govern some provincial Persian cities, he did not conceal his Christian faith, but worshiped Christ openly. This was made known to the King, for which he sent his highest man of rank named Adramelech to inquire into the matter. When he found Dada indeed having reverence towards Christ, he wrote to the King, who replied that Adramelech was given authority to punish any Christian he found. The King sent this letter through the hands of his son named Gobdelaha.

Saint Theophanes the Compassionate of Gaza

St. Theophanes the Compassionate (Feast Day - September 29)

Saint Theophanes the Compassionate was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind, merciful and compassionate. He took in the homeless, helped the poor and the sick, and spent all his substance on helping the needy, while he himself remained in want.

Theophanes did not grieve at all over the loss of his property, but he lost his health, and the sickness of dropsy caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. This ordeal Theophanes also endured in good spirit, giving thanks to God for all things.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Saint Faustus, Bishop of Riez (+ 495)

St. Faustus of Riez (Feast Day - September 28)

Saint Faustus was a native of Britain. He was educated as a philosopher but, since his greatest care was to acquire true wisdom, he became a monk at the renowned Monastery of Lerins, putting himself under the spiritual direction of Saint Honoratus (Jan. 16) and Saint Caprasius (June 1). His humility, obedience, meekness and zeal in the ascetic struggle enabled him to make rapid progress in the monastic virtues, so that he was highly regarded by the Holy Abbot Maximus (Nov. 27), and by other brethren. When Maximus was appointed Bishop of Riez in Provence in 434, Faustus succeeded him as Abbot of Lerins.

A Pilgrim Visits Saint Chariton Monastery in the Judean Desert


St. Chariton’s Monastery is located inside the natural park and reserve of En Farrah (Peralt) in the heart of the expansive Judean desert. It was built in the 4th Century by a mild mannered monk, one of the earliest Desert Fathers, and is one of the first monasteries in the desert. As the story goes, St. Chariton was on his way to the Judean Desert to pray in order to establish a coenobium and monastery. He was assaulted and kidnapped by a band of thieves on the way. They gagged him and tied him up and took him to their desert hideout. They were going to kill him, but were called away to another big heist. In their absence, the holy man prayed for their souls and his. It so happened that a viper, a black one with a green under stripe on its belly, one of the current poisonous species of desert snake native to the region, entered into the vat where they kept their wine. Upon their return and full of thirst, they fell to drinking the wine without hesitation. The monk being gagged made motions to them to be careful that the wine might be dangerous to drink to no avail. It was the will of God that in the morning, following Father Chariton’s night of vigil, the entire band of thieves slept dead never to rob again. Attributing this to God’s providence, Father Chariton buried the dead men and in the process uncovered the cave where they kept their loot. With this money, he proceeded to build the monastery. He had so much left over that he erected several hospitals, senior citizen centers, and orphanages in the city of Jerusalem.

The Rebirth of the First Monastery in the Holy Land - The Lavra of Saint Chariton


The Rebirth of the First Monastery in the Holy Land

Wildly beautiful, with sheer white cliffs and a lush green valley, Wadi Faran is the site of the very first monastery established in the Judean desert. St. Chariton, an ascetic from the 3rd century, found this place an ideal site for prayer and contemplation. Historians now say that this valley may even have been visited by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Massive white rocks and sheer cliffs overlook a ravine. Directly below the lavra, a spring feeds a stream as eddying pools of water give life to flowering bushes and trees.

Birds dive straight down from the terrifying heights of the cliffs over-head, sweeping upward just before reaching the bottom of the ravine. Conies scurry about their lairs (Psalm 103 [104] :18), pausing to gaze curiously at visitors.

Across the valley, an enormous mountain of striated rock, rippling like a sea of stone down towards the spring and dazzling in the morning sun, hides over a dozen caves.

These old monk cells dot the cliff walls,the largest of which served for centuries as a church. Access to this cave church is provided by a ladder passing through a narrow hole cut through an enormous slab of rock.

The church is a small space, with uneven walls and ceilings covered with centuries of soot. It is connected by low passageways to other caves, where monks ate, slept and prayed. Some of these cells were accessible only by rope ladders, which, when drawn up, guaranteed that their monastic solitude would not be disturbed.

The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission is bringing this lavra back to life. Not only monastics but pilgrims can once again sense the very same breathtaking and sublime beauty that St. Chariton and so many holy ascetics experienced for hundreds of years.


The Life of St. Chariton

In the year 275, a Christian named Chariton, imprisoned for his faith in Iconium, was freed and set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Before reaching his destination, however, he was abducted by bandits and brought to a cave in Wadi Faran.

That night, the kidnappers died mysteriously. According to tradition, a snake poisoned the abductors' wine with its venom, which they drank along with their doom. Chariton decided to stay in that very cave as a hermit. Monastics gathered around the wise ascetic, already known as a miracle-worker, and the first monastery in the Judean desert was born. Each monk lived in his own cave and met weekly for prayer.

Chariton soon fled from his followers in search of solitude-in this way, he was to found two more monasteries. His love for Wadi Faran, however, lasted throughout his life, and he was laid to rest there, according to his wishes. His tomb is found just below the caves where he first became a hermit. From then on, the monastics who gathered in this region numbered between 10-14,000, and the Patriarch of Jerusalem appointed an archimandrite just for this region.


Rediscovery of the Lavra

In the 12th century, the Russian pilgrim Abbot Daniel visited the Holy Land (the very Daniel who first lit the flame at the Tomb of Christ for the Land of Russia). He wrote of Wadi Faran, "...And there is a monastery nearby on the river Efam, near the sea of Sodom, in the mountains of rock, a great desert, wide and fearsome, waterless and arid...and beneath it is a labyrinth of rock, vast and exceedingly terrifying." St. Chariton's monastery was also, in his words, "Beauty amongst the mountains of rock, surrounded by a city..."

The Holy Land was ravaged by Saracens, Persians and "Crusaders", and the era of great monasteries was at its end. By the 16th century, only one monastery remained in Palestine, that of St. Savvas the Sanctified.

Archimandrite Leonid (Kavelin), head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, took a small group of monks in 1865 to search for the monastery on horseback. There was no longer a city surrounding the site, nor was there a road. The pilgrims' horses were left behind and they continued on foot. They traced the stream leading to the Dead Sea until they found a cave with seven openings, the very cavern of Chariton's salvation. Before the First World War, a delegation of Russian monks from Mt. Athos under the guidance of Fr. Panteleimon purchased the cave of St. Chariton along with some surrounding land. The monks reestablished a lavra there, living in the caves, gathering as they did in St. Chariton's time, only once a week for prayer.

However, the beautiful Athonite-style church they built was destroyed during the war (tesserae from the mosaics can still be seen strewn on the grounds). One of the monks, Fr. Gerasim, patiently began restoring the lavra, and built a small clay domicile. His intention was to rebuild the lavra as a pilgrimage site, but times were difficult, and Russians could ill afford to make the pilgrimages they once made by the thousands. Fr. Gerasim then sold the property to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission. The Society of St. Chariton was formed to care for the site, but in 1948, the lavra again burned down.

Two monks re-established a presence there again in the 1970's. Tourists and soldiers, attracted by the overwhelming beauty of the valley, flooded the area. Desiring solitude, the monks left St. Chariton's. The monastery's gates were then broken down, the iconostasis and books stolen.

The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission appeals for your help in the restoration of St. Chariton's lavra. We hope, also, that you make a pilgrimage to this magnificent and holy site, walking the paths Our Lord Himself may have walked and visiting the caves where so many monastics prayed ceaselessly for centuries.


Saint Chariton the Confessor

St. Chariton the Confessor (Feast Day - September 28)

Verses

All earth’s delights Chariton trampled on,
Now taking delight in heaven's graces.
On the twenty-eighth Chariton died in his old age.

Our Holy Father Chariton was born and brought up at Iconium in Asia Minor. The Emperor Aurelian (270-6), who showed no hostility to Christians at the outset of his reign, was incited by the devil after a while to begin a violent persecution of those who called upon the Name of Christ. Chariton, whose piety and godliness were well known in Iconium, was arrested and brought before the consul when the imperial decree arrived. As he fearlessly confessed Christ and his abhorrence of idols, he was stripped, stretched out on the ground, violently scourged, and thrown into prison with his flesh torn to shreds, and he was bound to iron chains. Shortly after this, Aurelian died and an imperial decree set the Confessor of Christ free. This allowed him to live a martyric life through strict asceticism.

Holy Martyrs of Pisidia During the Reign of Diocletian


On the twenty-eighth of this month [September], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Mark the Shepherd, the Holy Martyrs Alexander, Alpheios and Zosimas the brothers, and the Holy Martyrs Nikon, Neon, Heliodoros, and the other Virgins and Children.

Verses

To Mark
Mark was a shepherd, who was slain with a sword,
A shepherd of sheep, as was Scripture’s Abel.

To Alexander, Alpheios and Zosimos
Into the earth went the three Martyrs of the Lord,
From there came out a divine dew.

To Heliodoros, Nikon and Neon
Heliodoros, Nikon as well as Neon,
Gave a new victory against the enemies of Christ by a sword.

To the Virgins and Children
A myriad of children and women were slain,
O Child of a woman and God, receive the multitude.

Saint Isaac the Syrian Resource Page


Synaxarion of Saint Isaac the Syrian

Saint Isaac the Syrian as a Model for our Lives

The Feast Day of St. Isaac the Syrian on September 28th

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saint Kallistratos and the 49 Martyrs With Him


On the twenty-seventh of this month, we commemorate the Holy Martyr Kallistratos, and the Forty-Nine Martyrs with him.

Verses

To Kallistratos
The head of Kallistratos was cut off by a sword,
Joining the army of triumphant Martyrs.

To the 49 Martyrs*
Ten times four Martyrs joined with nine,
Through the contest of the sword contested honorably.

On the twenty-seventh Kallistratos from here was taken.

Kallistratos was born in the middle of the third century to Christian parents living in Chalcedon,** an ancient town on the opposite shore from Byzantium (present day Kadik√∂y). Okorus, one of his forefathers who was also a soldier in the Roman army under Pontius Pilate, was in Jerusalem at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Having witnessed these events first hand, and hearing the preaching of the apostles he believed and was baptized on Pentecost. Okorus returned home and instructed his family, and anyone who would listen, in the Christian faith. Each generation taught and followed Christ and His teachings, which Kallistratos also embraced.

Saint Jerome's Commentary on the Book of Jonah (5 of 5)


...continued from part four.

CHAPTER FOUR

1. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord, and said: 


LXX: Jonah was saddened by a great sadness, and he was confounded. And he prayed to the Lord, and he said:

Seeing the crowd of gentiles enter[168], and that fulfils what is written in Deuteronomy: "they annoyed me with these gods who are not gods, so I will annoy them with a people that is not one; I shall anger them like a foolish nation"[169]. He despairs of Israel's safety and is hit by a great suffering which breaks out in words. He shows the signs of his suffering and more or less says this: 'I have been the only one of the prophets chosen to announce my people's ruin to them through the safety of others.' Thus he is not sad that the crowd of gentiles should be saved, as some people believe, but it is the destruction of Israel. Moreover our Lord wept for Jerusalem and refused to take bread away from the children to give to the dogs[170]. And the apostles preach firstly to Israel, and Paul wishes to be anathema for his brothers who are Israelites[171] and have adoption, glory, alliance, promises and law, and from whom the patriarchs come, and from them too according to the flesh came Christ.[172] But suffering in vain, which is interpreted as the word Jonah, he is smitten by suffering, and 'the spirit is sad until death'[173]. For lest the people of the Jews should die, he has suffered as much as he was in power. The name of the sufferer also is appropriate to the story, since it signifies the toil of the prophet, weighed down by the miseries of his journey and the shipwreck.

Monday, September 26, 2016

A Morning Prayer by Elder Sophrony of Essex


Elder Sophrony gave this prayer to his own spiritual children, to be said ‘on rising from sleep.’ This version of the prayer is adapted from Hesychia and Theology by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, who writes, "If someone reads this prayer in the morning with contrition and attention, the whole day will be blessed."

Prayer at Daybreak
to be said each day on rising from sleep

Eternal King without beginning, You who are before all worlds, my Maker, Who have summoned all things from non-being into this life: bless this day that You, in Your inscrutable goodness, give to me. By the power of Your blessing enable me at all times in this coming day to speak and act for You, to Your glory, in Your fear, according to Your will, with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage, wisdom and prayer, aware everywhere of Your presence.

Saint Jerome's Commentary on the Book of Jonah (4 of 5)



CHAPTER THREE

1-2. And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid you. 


LXX: And the message of God came to Jonah a second time, saying, arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach there this message that I have told you.

He did not say to the prophet, "why have you not done what you were ordered to do?." But the punishment of the shipwreck and his drowning are enough for him to understand the Lord, the liberator, whom he hadn't known to be ordering. Moreover it is superfluous to see his wounds as those of a false servant of God, once he has been smitten, for such a punishment is less of a correction than a reproof. And our Lord is sent to Nineveh a second time after his resurrection: he who had fled by whatever means beforehand when he said, "My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass me by"[139], and who had not wanted to give bread of children to dogs, now the children have cried out, "crucify him, crucify him! we have no king except Caesar"[140], he makes his way towards Nineveh of his own accord to preach after his resurrection that he underwent as he was ordered to do before his suffering. The command is given, he hears it, he refuses, then he is forced to want, and the second time he carries out the will of the Father: all of this is connected to man and to the "form of a slave"[141], to whom such expressions are appropriate.

The Return of the Skull of the Apostle Andrew to Patras in 1964 as Reported in the New York Times


Saint Jerome wrote that the relics of Saint Andrew the Apostle were taken from Patras to Constantinople by order of the Roman Emperor Constantius II around 357 and deposited in the Church of the Holy Apostles. The skull of the Apostle Andrew was given by the Eastern Roman despot Thomas Palaiologos to Pope Pius II in 1461. It was enshrined in one of the four central piers of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. In September 1964, Pope Paul VI, as a gesture of goodwill toward the Greek Orthodox Church, ordered that all of the relics of Saint Andrew that were in Vatican City be sent back to Patras. Cardinal Augustin Bea along with many other cardinals presented the skull to Metropolitan Constantine of Patras on 24 September 1964, and this is commemorated annually on this day.

The article below features the distrust of many Greeks in receiving back the skull of the Apostle Andrew from the Vatican, though such distrust has long been sidelined, and the Cathedral of the Apostle Andrew in Patras today is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites for Orthodox Christians in the world.

Pope Returns a Relic of Apostle To Greeks After Five Centuries

September 27, 1964

Patras, Greece, Sept. 26 — A relic venerated as the skull of St. Andrew the Apostle was returned today from the Vati­can to Patras in a gesture of goodwill to the Greek Orthodox Church.

It was taken from this south­ern Greek port to St Peter's Basilica in Borne 504 years ago. Its return by Pope Paul VI was marked by a striking revival of Byzantine pomp—and of the religious feuds that raged in the Middle Ages.

The ceremony was boycotted by Greece's 84‐year‐old Ortho­dox Primate, Archbishop Chry­sostomos, and scholars chal­lenged the authenticity of the relic.

Resting in a golden reliquary shaped into the features of St. Andrew wearing a crown, the relic was brought by Augustin Cardinal Bea, the 83‐year‐old German Jesuit who is president of the Vatican Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity.


Stops Made at Villages

The eight‐man Vatican mis­sion landed at the Araxos mili­tary airfield in a special plane and drove in procession the 30 miles to Patras, stopping at vil­lages along the road to permit peasants to venerate the relic.

Ceremonies here were stripped of all religious character. The Orthodox church has ruled it a sin for its members to join Roman Catholics in prayer since the two branches of Christianity split 11 centuries ago.

In delivering the reliquary to Metropolitan Constantine of Patras, Cardinal Bea said the return of the relic gave the Pope an occasion to express his respects to the Greek Orthodox Church.

“For centuries we have lived like strangers, where as a com­mon baptism made us all the children of God,” he said. “May this day mark the beginning of a road, which with God's help may lead us to the day when our churches can be reunited.”


25 Defy Primate

About 25 Greek bishops de­fied instructions from their Primate to stay away from the Patras ceremony.

The Church of Greece, one of the most conservative Orth­odox churches, has been resist­ing efforts to restore Christian unity.

The relic was taken to the 120‐year old Church of St. Andrew in Patras, where ves­pers were sung jointly by all.

Meanwhile, Nicholas Toma­dakis, professor of Byzantine literature at Athens University, challenged the authenticity of the relic.

“Until the end of the 10th century, no one in the Byzan­tine Empire had heard anything about any remains of St. An­drew,” he said in a letter to the conservative newspaper Kathi­merini.

“Both the head of the saint and his body, which is reputed to be at Amalfi in Italy, are fabrications of later centuries,” he added. “It is sad that the Greek Church did not ask ex­perts to establish the authen­ticity of the remains.”

Read also: The Translation of the Honorable Skull of the Apostle Andrew to Patras


The Life of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

St. John the Theologian (Feast Days - September 26 & May 8)

Verses

Standing beside the beloved Word of the Father,
Is he who was beloved more than all of the disciples.
On the twenty sixth the child of thunder departed unto God.

The holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian was the son of Zebedee and Salome, the daughter of Joseph the Betrothed, and he was called away from his fisherman’s nets to preach the Gospel. When our Lord Jesus Christ, walking along the Sea of Galilee, chose His apostles from amongst the fishermen and had already summoned the two brethren, Peter and Andrew, He then caught sight of two other brothers, James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were mending their nets in a boat with their father, and called them. Straightway, abandoning their boat and their father, they followed after Jesus Christ.

Saint John the Theologian Resource Page


The Life of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian as a Model for our Lives

The Repose of St. John the Theologian According to His Disciple Prochorus

The Apostle John and the Convert Who Returned To His Former Way Of Life

When St. John the Theologian Faced the Magician Kynops on the Island of Patmos

On St. John the Evangelist and Theologian (St. Gregory Palamas)

The Lives of the Four Evangelists (St. Sophronios of Jerusalem)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Commemoration of the Great Earthquake of 447 and the Snatching Up of the Child in the Air

Commemoration of the Great Earthquake and the Snatching Up of the Child in the Air (Feast Day - September 25)

Verses

Lifted on high a boy proclaims below,
The song thrice-holy that the Angels sing.

During the reign of Emperor Theodosius II the Younger (408-450), the all-good God allowed by the judgement He knows, to give full assurance to mankind, first, of the common resurrection of all in the last days,* and second, how we ought to sing praises correctly to God. For this reason He allowed a terrible earthquake, and out of fear of this earthquake all the people of Constantinople, together with the emperor and the most holy Patriarch Proclus, as well as all the clergy, were found together outside in the field and they did litanies. And since at that time there began the heresy of the Theopaschites at the instigation of the devil, who added to the Trisagion Hymn the words, "Who was crucified for us":** for this reason suddenly a child was snatched up before them into the air.*** While everyone beheld this strange thing, with fear and terror they cried out for a long time, "Lord have mercy," and then once again the child was brought down by a cloud, and in a loud voice he revealed to all that the choir of Angels ascribe the Trisagion Hymn to God without the additional "Who was crucified for us," instead saying, "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us." And the child, immediately after saying these things, delivered his soul into the hands of God, and the earthquake immediately ceased.****

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Relevance of Saint Silouan's Teaching for Today


By Harry Boosalis

Within the lives of many throughout the Western world today, there is a significant increase of interest in spiritual life. Many people are seeking a personal experience of the grace of God. They desire a tangible and dynamic experience of His presence within their daily lives. Furthermore, many today are trying to satisfy this inner need through a variety of methods and means.

The recent growth of the various pseudo-Christian cults and other such religious sects bears witness to this shift in attitudes. The steady interest in 'spirituality', whether from the Near, Middle or Far East, is also another indication of the spiritual thirst of contemporary man. Another clear manifestation of this inner human need with completely negative results is the rising popularity of satanic and occult practices, as well as the neo-pagan rituals and other such ceremonies of New Age religious movements. Add to this the tremendous interest today of anything even remotely connected with the world of psychic phenomena, and the need for communion with God becomes most obvious. At times it seems as if modern man is searching frantically for God.

This widespread search for spiritual life, no matter how flawed or misguided, reveals the fact that an innate desire for participation in divine life is basic to the human being. Indeed, this is exactly the reason why man was created. Life in communion with God is man's natural orientation. When this spiritual need is not satisfied through conventional means, then its fulfillment is sought elsewhere.

Synaxarion of Saint Kopris, Disciple of St. Theodosios the Coenobiarch


On the twenty-fourth of this month [September], we commemorate our Holy Father Kopris.

Verses

Kopris was not dung, but another cluster of grapes,
A fair blossom that is offered to the Lord.

He was born on a dung heap outside the Monastery of Theodosios the Coenobiarch, by a woman who was being pursued by the Hagarenes with a large number of others of the neighborhood, and who fled to Saint Theodosios for safety from the hands of the impious, and she was prevailed upon by birth pangs. And finding there a dung heap, she gave birth on it. After the passage of the Hagarenes the monks found the new born child on the dung heap and, at the order of Saint Theodosios they adopted him and named him Kopris.* He was nurtured on the milk of a goat. When this goat was grazing with the other goats on the mountain, it would reckon the time when to suckle the child, it would then come down from the mountain, and after it had suckled him, it returned again. This it did until the child grew and was able to eat stronger food.

Synaxarion of the Holy Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles Thekla


On the twenty-fourth of this month [September], we commemorate the Holy Protomartyr and Equal to the Apostles Thekla.

Verses

He saved you, Thekla, when He rent the rock,
He at whose passion once the rocks were rent.
On the twenty fourth a rock received Thekla.

Saint Thekla came from the city of Iconium, the daughter of a noble and distinguished woman named Theokleia, who was a Greek. At the age of eighteen she was engaged to a man named Thamyris.

A Homily on Saint Silouan the Athonite (Metr. Anthony of Sourozh)




Friday, September 23, 2016

Saint Jerome's Commentary on the Book of Jonah (3 of 5)


...continued from part two.


CHAPTER TWO

1. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. 

LXX: And the Lord ordered a great fish to swallow Jonah.

The Lord commanded death and the underworld to receive the prophet. To the eager jaws of death he seemed a prey: she had such joy in swallowing him, and such sadness in spitting him out. Thus happened what is written in Hosea: "I will be your death, O Death! I will be your bite, Hell!"[77]. In the Hebrew we read "a great fish", which the Septuagint and the Lord in the Gospel call a whale, to explain the matter in short. For the Hebrew says dag gadol that we translate as 'a big fish'. Evidently this means a whale. We must note too that where he awaited death, he found his salvation. And when it says, "he had prepared", this is even right at the beginning of creation, the animal which is mentioned in the psalm: "this dragon which you have created to play with him"[78]. Or even he makes a fish come near to the ship to take in its belly Jonah who has been thrown over board, and to provide his rescue not his death. So he who felt the wrath of God in the boat was to feel his benevolence in his death.

Holy Virgin Martyr Rhais of Egypt

St. Rhais the Virgin (Feast Day - September 23)

Verses

Longing to see God’s beauty Rhais gave,
The beauty of her flesh to the sword.

Rhais* was from a place in Egypt called Batan (or Tamman), and the daughter of a Christian priest named Peter. At the age of twelve she dedicated her life to the Lord in virginity along with other maidens.

Synaxarion of Saints Xanthippe and Polyxene of Spain


On the twenty-third of this month [September], we commemorate the venerable women Xanthippe and Polyxene, who were sisters.

Verses

Xanthippe and Polyxene the kin,
Received fellowship in the chorus of Angels.

+ + +

You worthily seized the divine with might,
Sisters Xanthippe and Polyxene.

Canon for the Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John


Canon for the Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet, 
Forerunner and Baptist John

By St. John of Damascus

In Plagal of the First Mode

ODE I

Irmos: Traversing the deep on foot, as though it were dry land, and seeing the tyrant Pharaoh drowned, Israel cried aloud: Let us chant unto God a hymn of victory!

O offspring of the barren woman: uproot thou the barren thoughts of my barren soul, as I begin to praise thy holy conception in thy mother's womb.

The sacred Zechariah, entering the temple, beheld the divine angel, who manifestly proclaimed to him: O priest, in thine old age thou shalt receive a son, the Forerunner.

The great Forerunner, the radiant beacon of the Sun of glory, is conceived to shine forth in his mother's womb, by whom the darkness of the passions is rent asunder and the bonds of barrenness are loosed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Life and Veneration of Holy Martyr Phocas the Gardener of Sinope

St. Phocas the Gardener of Sinope (Feast Day - September 22)

Verses

Phocas the Martyr delighted in your grace O Word,
And in your grace he died meeting his end through the sword.

Like Saint Phocas the Bishop of Sinope a few centuries before him, so also this Saint Phocas was from Sinope in the region of Paphlagonia. He probably lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305), and he was a gardener. He had a very small garden, and whatever it produced, he equally shared it with the poor. However, not only did the Saint cultivate the sensible garden, but also the noetic garden of the soul, that the various flowers of the holy virtues might flourish there.

Saint Jerome's Commentary on the Book of Jonah (2 of 5)


...continued from part one.

CHAPTER ONE

1. Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

Apart from that which the Septuagint translates as, "the noise of their wickedness has risen up even to me", it has translated the rest similarly. Jonah is sent to the gentiles to condemn Israel, because Nineveh had to repent, but the Israelites still persisted in their sin. And when God says, "their wickedness has come up to me", or "the noise of their wickedness…" it is exactly the text of Genesis: "the noise of Sodom and of Gomorrah is very loud"[8], and to Cain: "the blood of your brother cries to me from the earth"[9]. According to tropology the Lord, our Jonah, that is to say 'dove' or 'suffering', (he is given both meaning, either because the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove and stays with him[10], or because he has suffered for our wounds, wept for Jerusalem[11], and because we have been cured by his malice[12]) is truly the son of Truth, for God is Truth[13]. He is sent to Nineveh the beautiful, that is to the world, where there is nothing more beautiful to our eyes than flesh. In Greek the idea of adornment is in the word cosmos. And when everything had been completed, each one by one, it was said, "and God saw that it was good"[14]. It is to Nineveh that he goes, the great city, so that although Israel has not wanted to listen, the whole world of peoples will hear God's word. And this is because their wickedness has gone up to God. For although God had made the most beautiful house for man who was devoted to serving his creator, man deprived himself of this by his own will; from childhood his heart fixed upon wickedness[15]. He turned his face to the heaven[16] and constructed a tower of pride[17]. He deserves then God to come down to him so that he may be able to rise to heaven by the destruction of repentance, he that did not succeed by the swell of pride.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Synaxarion of the Holy Prophet Jonah

Holy Prophet Jonah (Feast Day - Gr. September 21; Slav. September 22)

Verses

You fled far from the face of God of old,
Now Jonah his face do you behold.

The Holy Prophet Jonah was the son of Amittai, from the city of Gath Kariathmaous, and resided near Azotus, a city of the Greeks near the sea. His mother was that widow to whom Elijah was sent, when through his prayers famine came to Samaria, and throughout all the realms of the ten tribes. Due to the hospitality of this woman he blessed the jug of oil and jar of flour, which did not get used up or become diminished throughout the period of the famine. Jonah was the son of this widow, whom Elijah incredibly raised from the dead.*

Saint Jerome's Commentary on the Book of Jonah (1 of 5)


By St. Jerome

PROLOGUE

About three years have now passed since I first started writing the commentaries on the five Prophets: Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai. Detained by another work, I was not able to finish what I had undertaken. For I was writing a book on famous men and two volumes against Jovinian, an apology and an essay on 'the best way to translate' which was addressed to Pammachius, two books to or about Nepotian, and other works which it would be lengthy to recount. Therefore I retake up my commentaries with Jonah after such a long absence.

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostle Kodratos at Magnesia

St. Kodratos the Apostle (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

The mindless assailed Kodratos with stones,
Because to stones he would not pay reverence.
On the twenty-first Kodratos found the crown of the contest.

+ + +

Like an athlete Kodratos soundly preached,
And in the heavens received many prizes.
On the twenty-first Kodratos found the crown of the contest.

Prophet Jonah Resource Page

Holy Prophet Jonah (Feast Day - Gr. September 21; Slav. September 22)

Verses

You fled far from the face of God of old,
Now Jonah his face do you behold.

Synaxarion of the Holy Prophet Jonah

Holy Prophet Jonah as a Model for our Lives

The Prophet Jonah in the Writings of the Church Fathers

Saints Isaac and Meletios, Bishops of Cyprus

Sts. Isaac and Meletios of Cyprus (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

To Meletios
The care of Meletios flowed with life,
So that in the end one could say he loved.

To Isaac
Isaac was sacrificed like a calf by the sword,
Because he did not sacrifice a calf to the gods.

Holy Martyr Priscus of Phrygia

St. Priscus the Martyr of Phrygia (Feast Day - September 21)

Verses

Bearing the living water in his heart,
Priscus feared not the burning of the flesh.

According to the Menologion of Basil II, Priscus came to love God and received divine Baptism after abandoning the impiety of his forefathers. He boldly proclaimed Christ, and in so doing he emboldened other Christians, while at the same time converting many pagans to faith in Christ. For this he was brought to trial, and after denouncing the gods and the royal decree that bid all to worship them, he urged everyone to revere and worship Christ Crucified.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Saint Eustathios Kataphloros, Archbishop of Thessaloniki (+ 1195)

St. Eustathios of Thessaloniki (Feast Day - September 20)

Saint Eustathios was born in Constantinople about the year 1115. In his youth he entered the Monastery of Saint Euphemia where he began the studies that he completed with great distinction at the Patriarchal School as a pupil of Nicholas Kataphloros. Eustathios took on the last name of his teacher, though it is unknown if he did this because they were related or because he wanted to honor him.

Eustathios was ordained a Deacon in Hagia Sophia in 1150, then appointed to the offices of superintendent of petitions, keeper of the sacred vessels and professor of rhetoric by Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, the last of which means that he was the head of the Patriarchal School. He was distinguished as a public orator and for his deep learning, and taught the whole range of Greek classics. It was during this time that he wrote his Commentaries on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey among his other works on literature. Eustathios’ house in Constantinople was a sort of school for young students; it became a center around which the best minds of the capital and youths anxious to learn collected. Or as Michael Choniates said in his funeral oration: "All young students of literature sought his company, and his home was truly a shrine of the Muses, another Academy, Stoa, and Peripatos."

Saint John the Stranger, Enlightener of Crete (+ 1031)

Holy Lord John the Stranger (Feast Day - September 20)

The Cretan Saint John the Stranger (or the Xenos), as we learn from his will, was born in the village of Makra Siva of the Pyriotissa Province in Messara, in 970, ten years after the liberation of Crete from the Saracens.

Crete has been under the occupation of many conquerors throughout history. For 133 years, from 828 until 961, the Arab Saracens had transformed the island into a center of pirate raids in the Aegean. Many towns and villages were virtually destroyed and the Christians who had escaped the massacres and Islamization had a problem of survival. So when Crete was liberated in 961 by Nikephoros Phokas, there was an urgent need to re-evangelize the inhabitants.

Holy New Martyr Hilarion the New of Crete (+ 1804)

St. Hilarion the New Martyr of Crete (Feast Day - September 20)

Verses

Hilarion seized a double crown,
That of an ascetic and athlete of the Lord.
On the twentieth Hilarion mightily submitted his fate to the sword.

Saint Hilarion was born to pious Orthodox Christians, Francisco and Katherine, in the city of Heraklion in Crete, and had four siblings: two brothers named Polyzoes and George, and two sisters whose names are not known to us. Hilarion's birth name was John.

Saint Eustathios Plakidas Resource Page


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.

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

The Life of the Great-Martyr Eustathios Plakidas With His Wife and Children of Rome

Monday, September 19, 2016

Metropolitan Kallistos on Elder Amphilochios of Patmos (video)


This lecture delivered by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia on his renowned spiritual father Elder Amphilochios (Makris) of Patmos was delivered on 30 August 2016 during the IOCS Conference on 'Contemporary Fathers and Mothers of the Church - Guides for Today’s World' (29-31 August 2016, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, England).

Saint Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury (+ 690)

St. Theodore of Tarsus (Feast Day - September 19)

Saint Theodore was the eighth Archbishop of Canterbury (668-690), and one of England’s great saints, best known for his reform of the English Church and establishment of a school in Canterbury.

He was born in 602 in Tarsus of Asia Minor, the home of the Apostle Paul. In his childhood Theodore experienced devastating wars between the Eastern Roman and the Persian Empires, conflicts that resulted in the capture of the major Christian cities of Antioch, Damascus, and Jerusalem during the years of 613 and 614. Tarsus was captured by Persian forces when Theodore was 11 or 12. There is evidence that Theodore experienced Persian culture. It is likely that he studied at Antioch, the historic home of a distinctive school of exegesis, of which he was a proponent. Theodore also was familiar with Syrian culture, language, and literature, and may also have traveled to Edessa.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios, and Dorymedon


On the nineteenth of this month [September], we commemorate the Holy Martyrs Trophimos, Sabbatios and Dorymedon.

Verses

To Trophimos and Dorymedon
Inspired Dorymedon and Trophimos,
Accepted the sword and the end of their lives.

To Sabbatios
Scraped with sharp iron Sabbatios the Martyr,
Attains the divine sabbath rest.

On the nineteenth Trophimos with his two fellow athletes were cut asunder.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Life, Miracles and Churches of Saint Anastasios the Weaver from Peristerona, Cyprus

St. Anasatasios the Weaver (Feast Day - September 17)

Life

Regarding the life of Saint Anastasios, we have sources that say he came to Cyprus from the Holy Land in the seventh century with the Arab invasion, and others that he came with the Alaman Saints as a soldier of the Crusades in the twelfth century to the Holy Land and later found refuge from the Arabs in Cyprus. In both cases, he came to Cyprus with 300 other Christians.

Saint Eumenios of Gortyna as a Model for our Lives

St. Eumenios of Gortyna (Feast Day - September 18)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Eumenios was from Crete. He probably lived before 732 A.D., when Crete was ecclesiastically dependent on Rome probably between 667 and 680. This is extracted from the fact that the Saint reconciled the emperors Constantine IV Pogonatos, Heraclius and Tiberius, as we read in his Service composed by Joseph the Hymnographer.

From his youth Saint Eumenios was dedicated with much diligence to asceticism and prayer. He was distinguished for his deep humility, not calumniating and not judging anyone, nor did he allow anyone to criticize others in front of him. That is, he strictly applied the words of the sacred Psalmist: "I will silence whoever secretly slanders his neighbor" (Ps. 101:5 LXX).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Synaxarion of Saint Sophia and her Three Daughters Faith, Hope and Love

Sts. Sophia with Faith, Hope and Love (Feast Day - September 17)

Verses

To Sophia
As David chants saying for Sophia and her children,
Let the mother be glad now in her prayers.

To Faith, Hope and Love
With faith in you, O Trinity, the three,
Faith, Hope and Love, bowed their necks unto the sword.

On the seventeenth Faith, Hope and Love were beheaded.

These Holy Martyrs lived during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138), and were from a notable and illustrious family of Italy. They were pious just as their ancestors, and they conducted themselves as ones who love God with faith and hope and love and wisdom, just as the names they bore.

Saint Agathokleia the Martyr


Verses

Agathokleia bears fire on her neck,
Dreadfully burning dreadful error by the neck.

The Holy Martyr Agathokleia was a servant* in the home of a certain Christian named Nicholas, who treated her with kindness and goodness. His wife Paulina was an impious and hard-hearted pagan, and for eight years the blessed Agathokleia underwent much abuse from her mistress because of her faith and in order to convert her to idolatry.

Saints Lucy the Widow and Geminianus her Spiritual Son

Sts. Lucy and Geminianus (Feast Day - September 17)

Verses

For Lucy
In peace, O Christ, your servant Lucy passed,
Entering into a place of peace.

For Geminianus
Full of courage the Martyr Geminianus,
Staunchly endured beheading by the sword.

154 Holy Martyrs of Egypt and Palestine


On the seventeenth of this month [September], we commemorate the Holy Martyrs Peleus and Nilus the Bishops, Patermuthius, Elias and another 100 Martyrs of Egypt, and 50 Martyrs of Palestine.

Verses

For Peleus and Nilus the Bishops of Egypt
How is Peleus as great as Peleus,
And Nilus who entered into the midst of the fire?*

For Patermouthius and Elias of Egypt
Patermouthios fell into the furnace,
Spurring Elias towards equal zeal.

For the One Hundred Martyrs of Egypt
Egyptian Martyrs ten times ten,
Together eagerly have their heads cut off.

For the Fifty Martyrs of Palestine
Godly-minded men of prudence,
Despise the fire and the sword.**

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