Sunday, April 30, 2017

Synaxis of All Saints of Messenia


On the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Church celebrates the memory of all those Saints who are associated with Messenia, a district of the southwestern Peloponnese. The twelve Saints who are celebrated are:

1. Holy Apostle Caesar, First Bishop of Koroni (Dec. 8)

2. Saint Athanasios, Patriarch of Constantinople, whose relic is kept in the Church of Saint Constantine in Androusa. (Oct. 28)

Synaxis of All Saints of Thessaloniki


On the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Church celebrates the memory of all the Saints associated with the city of Thessaloniki.

In the detailed icon above of All Saints of Thessaloniki, depicted at the center of all the many Saints is the patron of the city, St. Demetrios, and the enlightener of the city, St. Paul.

"You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." - 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

Sunday of the Myrrhbearers Resource Page


On this day, the third Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearing women; and we also commemorate Joseph of Arimathea, who was a secret disciple, and also Nikodemos, who was a disciple by night.

Verses

The women disciples bring myrrh unto Christ.
And I bring a hymn as it were myrrh unto them?

Synaxarion For the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers

Homily For the Sunday of The Myrrhbearing Women (St. Gregory Palamas)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostles Jason and Sosipater and Those With Them

Sts. Jason, Sosipater, Kerkyra and Those With Them (Feast Day - April 29)

Verses

To Jason.*
Jason found perishable life in a foreign land,
But he found another acquired even further beyond.

To Sosipater.
Dying Sosipater your face showed the glory,
Of the Father of God the Word.

To the Seven Martyrs Who Were Formerly Thieves.
When the thieves learned of the allotted portion of the thief in Eden,
They hurried to obtain their lot in the burning pitch.

To Kerkyra.
The punctured wounds from the arrow of the king,
Left a mark that shined like a pearl.

To Eusebius.**
The fire cleansed you of filth, Eusebius,
Making you the pure gold of Christ.

To Zenon and Vitalion.
Do not be afraid, Vitalion, as you approach the fire,
For Zenon goes before you and enters beforehand.

To Neon.
Not wanting to worship the gods of the Greeks,
Neon was burned and destroyed the faith of the Greeks.

Miracles of Saint Basil of Ostrog (1 of 5)


THE GLORIFICATION OF ST. BASIL OF OSTROG

By Archimandrite Justin of Chelije

Immediately after the falling asleep of St. Basil in 1671, people started coming in great numbers to pray at his grave, just as they were accustomed to doing during his earthly life. Many miracles began taking place at the site of his grave and they have not ceased to this day.

Seven years after giving up his soul to God, in 1678, St. Basil appeared in a dream to Father Rafailo (Kosijerevac) the Abbot of Saint Luke Monastery in Zhupa near Nikshich, and ordered him to go to Ostrog and open up the Saint’s grave. The Abbot paid no attention to the dream and did not go. He had the same dream again, but he again ignored it. St. Basil then appeared to the Abbot a third time, dressed in episcopal vestments and with a censer in his hand. The Abbot woke up in fear and trepidation and told the brotherhood of his monastery about his dream. They agreed at once to make a hasty journey to Ostrog.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Method By Which St. Cyril of Alexandria Corrected a Theological Error of a Holy Elder


The same Abba Daniel told of another great old man who dwelt in lower Egypt, who in his simplicity, said that Melchizedek was the son of God. When blessed Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria, was told about this he sent someone to him. Learning that the old man was a worker of miracles and that all he asked of God was revealed to him, and that it was because of his simplicity that he had given utterance to this saying, using guile the Archbishop said to him,

Synaxarion of Saint Memnon the Wonderworker

St. Memnon the Wonderworker (Feast Day - April 28)

Verses

Seized by the last small sleep,
Memnon tarries with all who are of God.

Our Holy Father Memnon, bidding farewell to the world and all therein for the love of God, righteously and well-pleasingly passed his life in obedience and submission, which is why he became an abbot of monks. Having acquired gentleness and love, for this reason he also became a wonderworker.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Saint John the Confessor, Abbot of Katharon Monastery

St. John the Confessor of Katharon (Feast Day - April 27)

Verses

You were cleansed of your passions O blessed John,
Like Katharon Monastery over which you presided.

Blessed John is said to have been from Irenopolis, which was one of the ten cities of Isaurian Decapolis in Asia Minor, though in his synaxarion the Decapolis he is associated with is the one in Coele-Syria. He was born around 778 to pious Christian parents whose names were Theodore and Gregoria. At nine years old he was aflame with longing for God and entered a monastery where he was tonsured a monk. Being diligent in his work, humility and obedience, he was loved by his teacher and elder, and together they attended the Seventh Ecumenical Synod in 787 at Nicaea. From there he went with his elder to Constantinople, where his elder became abbot of the Dalmatian Monastery. John in turn received the great schema and was ordained a priest, then sent by Emperor Nikephoros I (802-811) to be the abbot of Katharon Monastery. Having pastored the flock of Christ there for over ten years in a God-pleasing and apostolic manner, for this reason he was loved by all people.

Saint Eulogios the Hospitable, Who Was a Stonecutter

St. Eulogios the Hospitable (Feast Day - April 27);
Photo depicts stonecutters in Ancient Rome.

Verses

Eulogios the host of strangers,
You are hosted by Abraham the host of God.

In the Life of Abba Daniel of Scetis (June 7), we read the following of Eulogios the Stonecutter, who was known as Eulogios the Hospitable for his virtue of hospitality:

Abba Daniel, the priest of Scetis, was across from the Thebaid, having with him one of his disciples, and they left, sailing down the river. After setting sail, they came to a farm to which the old man had directed the sailors and the old man said, “We will stay here today.” His disciple began to grumble and say, “How long are we going to waste our time here? Let’s go on to Scetis.” The old man said, “No, we’ll stay here today.”

Holy Hieromartyr Symeon the Brother of God, Bishop of Jerusalem

St. Symeon the Brother of our Lord (Feast Day - April 27)

Verses

As a brother of the Lord, Symeon, you suffered,
As a brother of the Lord you hung on the wood.
On the twenty-seventh Symeon was affixed to the cross.


According to Eusebius (Church History, Bk. 3, Ch. 11) who quotes Hegesippus, Saint Symeon is said to have been the son of Cleopas, otherwise called Alphaeus, who was father also of Saint James the Lesser, of Saint Jude the Apostle, and of another son named Joses. Cleopas, according to tradition, was Saint Joseph the Betrothed's brother; thus Saint Symeon was the nephew of Saint Joseph the Betrothed and the cousin of our Savior.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Holy Hieromartyr Basil, Bishop of Amasea (+ 322)

St. Basil of Amasea (Feast Days - April 26 and 30)

Verses for Basil on April 26

Beheaded Basil you have become a celestial king,
Wearing red dyed with your blood.
On the twenty-sixth Basil was beheaded with a sword.

Verses for Glaphyra on April 26

Glaphyra with the eyes of her soul,
Now sees God not subtly, but clearly.

Verses for Basil on April 30

Neither anointing nor death escaped Basil,
Basil slain has living grace.

The Holy Hieromartyr Basil lived at the beginning of the fourth century and was Bishop of Amasea in Pontus. During his time the Eastern part of the Roman Empire was ruled by Licinius (312-324), the brother-in-law of Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337), who ruled the Western part. Licinius deceitfully undersigned Constantine's "Edict of Religious Toleration" (313), which permitted the freely open confession of Christianity, but at heart he hated Christians and continued to persecute them to return to paganism. Bishop Basil encouraged and comforted the Christians who were suffering persecution by the pagans.

Saint Stephen, Bishop of Perm (+ 1396)

St. Stephen of Perm (Feast Day - April 26)

St. Stephen, the Enlightener of Perm, was a contemporary of St. Sergius of Radonezh, one of the great fathers of Russian monasticism. The spiritual affinity of the two Saints is illustrated by the following incident, as recorded in St. Sergius' Life:

Once, when St. Stephen was passing near St. Sergius' monastery on his way to Moscow, he stopped and turned in the direction of the monastery with the words: "Peace to thee, my spiritual brother!" Seeing this with his spiritual eyes, St. Sergius, who at that moment was sitting in the refectory with his monks, arose, said a prayer and bowed in St. Stephen's direction, saying as he did: "Rejoice also, thou pastor of Christ's flock, and may the blessing of the Lord be with thee!"

Born in 1340, St. Stephen was the son of a cleric, Simeon of Ustiug, and his wife Maria. When Maria was only three, Blessed Prokopy, fool-for-Christ of Ustiug (July 8), foretold that she would give birth to a great hierarch.

Saint Kalandion and his Unique Church in Cyprus

St. Kalandion (Feast Day - April 26)

At the village of Pano Arodes in the province of Paphos on the island of Cyprus, there is located the only church in the world that is dedicated to Saint Kalandion. It's the central church of the village and was built in the 18th century. Saint Kalandion is one of the Saints of Paphos who is unknown not only in the wider Greek world, but also in the other districts of Cyprus.

According to the Cypriot chronicler Leontios Machairas, who lived during the 15th century, this Saint is one of the Three Hundred Alamanni Saints who came to Cyprus in the seventh century when the Saracens conquered Palestine and Syria, countries that were then major centers of monasticism. Saint Kalandion was bishop of Antioch, and after losing his flock, he came to Cyprus along with Saint Agapios and Saint Barlaam, who decided to live from then on as hermits. According again to the historian Machairas, these three Saints lived as ascetics in the village of Arodes in Paphos. "...in Arodes there is Saint Kalandion, Saint Agapios and Saint Barlaam...".

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Saint Basil the Hesychast, Abbot of Poiana Marului Skete (+ 1767)

St. Basil the Hesychast (Feast Day - April 25)

In his autobiography, Saint Paisius Velichkovsky calls his spiritual father Saint Basil the Hesychast "our common teacher and instructor, the most pious and holy elder and schema monk Basil." He was born near Poltava (Ukraine) in 1692 and is a representative of the Russian-Ukrainian monastic migration that occurred in the 18-19th centuries because of the reforms of Peter the Great in Russia and the persecution of the Orthodox believers in Ukraine which was under Polish rule.

He went to Wallachia with his disciple Monk Michael and received monastic tonsure at Dalhautsi-Focshani Skete in 1705 or 1706, laboring in asceticism with great fervor. There he studied the depths of the Holy Scriptures and read many writings of the Holy Fathers. Saint Basil was ordained to the holy priesthood and became abbot of Dalhautsi in 1715. He remained in that position for twenty years, and was a wise instructor of about forty monks, teaching them obedience, humility, and the art of Noetic Prayer. The art of Noetic Prayer he learned at the Pocrov Skete, initiated by Saint Pachomius the Bishop of Roman (+ 1726), decades before the compilation of the Philokalia.

Saint Macedonius II, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ c. 517)

St. Macedonius II, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - April 25)

Verses

Shunned, Macedonius, from your corruptible throne,
You sing hymns to the Divine with Seraphim and Thrones.

Little is known of the early life of Patriarch Macedonius. A nephew of Patriarch Gennadius, he was a Presbyter of the Great Church of Hagia Sophia as well as a Skevophylax. He came to be Patriarch when Emperor Anastasios forced the deposition of Patriarch Euphemios for the alleged treason by revealing Anastasios' war strategy to his enemies; in reality the emperor wanted him to resist the Fourth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon. A synod of bishops, obedient to the emperor, elected Macedonius patriarch after excommunicating and deposing Euphemios. As Macedonius met with Euphemios before his journey into exile, Macedonius had his deacon remove his newly-given omophorion and dress him as a simple priest, "not daring to wear" his insignia before their canonical owner. During their last conversation together, Macedonius gave Euphemios the proceeds of a loan he had raised for Euphemios' expenses into exile in Asia Minor. Macedonius was elevted to the patriarchal throne in 496.

Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist

St. Mark the Evangelist (Feast Day - April 25 or Bright Wednesday)

Verses

The bloodthirsty dragged Mark along the earth,
Sending to the heavens him who they did not recognize.
On the twenty-fifth the senseless ones dragged Mark along earth.

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark was a Jew by birth, of the tribe of Levi. His Hebrew name was John, but attached his Latin name Mark to it when he joined the Apostle Peter to preach the gospel in Rome. He is considered one of the Seventy Apostles of the Lord by Origen and Saint Epiphanios of Salamis.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Saint Xenophon, Founder of the Athonite Monastery of Xenophontos

St. Xenophon, founder of Xenophontos Monastery (Feast Day - April 24)

Saint Xenophon (or Xenophontos) lived at the end of the tenth century as an ascetic on Mount Athos. He was from a known and wealthy family and received an excellent education. While living at the same time as Saint Athanasios the Athonite, who founded Great Lavra Monastery on Mount Athos, he and his brother Theodore visited him, and Theodore was healed by Saint Athanasios from an incurable case of cancer.

Encomium to the Holy Great Martyr George the Trophy-Bearer (Theodotus of Ancyra)


The Encomium which the blessed Abba Theodotus, Bishop of Ancyra (d. c. 445) in Galatia, pronounced on the day of the glorious commemoration - which is the twenty-third of the month Pharmuthi - of Saint George, the martyr of Diospolis of Palestine, the sun of the truth, the star of the morning, the mighty man of the Galileans from Melitene and the valiant soldier of Christ; and he showed forth his family relationships and the mighty conflicts which he endured, and the honours which he received in heaven; in the peace of God, Amen.

It is meet and right and fitting for our souls, O holy beloved, that we should commemorate the sufferings and honourable contests of the saints, and more especially of Saint George the mighty, the most excellent and honourable athlete and warrior - whose festival we celebrate to-day in this glorious commemoration - who has shown himself to us approved by God and loveworthy before men, by reason of the righteous deeds which he displayed, through which he was worthy of being called into the healthful sufferings of Christ and of bearing wounds in his body for Christ's sake. He was perfect in great endurance, and mighty valour, and a pure heart, and in giving up his entire will to God through the great zeal which he had in his heart towards God, and in the fear of Him which he had within him, which bore fruit plentifully to Him a hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold. Moreover, he forsook his own will, and the multiplying of his great wealth, and his servants, and all his riches, and hearkened unto the voice of God, and took up his cross, and walked after our Lord Jesus, following after Him with an upright heart. On this account he received so great an honour from Christ that He spake to him with an oath, saying, "Among all the martyrs who have existed there shall not be one like unto thee in heaven, neither shall there be any like unto thee for ever." He burned with the Holy Spirit and performed his daily life witrh zeal that he might be among those that are chosen and that benefit out souls. In short, he performed the whole will of God and put himself beyod the reach of every thought which could offend the soul. He lived in the service of God, and was remote from the vain sights of this life which are like dreams and which pass away quickly like shadows. For this reason he longed for heaven, remembering what the blessed Paul said, "If ye be risen with Christ, seek after the things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God," and "Remember the things which are above and not those which are upon earth." Neither his father's rank of Count, nor the high birth of his mother, nor the glory of his soldierhood could overcome the decision of the truly noble and holy Saint George, neither could any one of these lead him astray or seduce him to forsake his piety and firm decision and perfect faith. The grace of God perfected him in every thing concerning which he was anxious, and he feared God who watched over him, and God strengthened him on every side, like a precious stone of admant, that he might never be moved. On this account when the time of persecution came, the heart of the holy Saint George was ready, and when God called him into the holy contest he was prompt to obey. Moreover, he went to the holy contest and marched through it by himself; and when they tortured him he became valiant, and was firm and resisted his enemies. He fought with impious governors and received the crown incorruptible for ever, and an imperial sceptre and royal throne from the true and holy Bridgreoom our Lord jesus Christ. And not only himself, but multitudes of souls received crowns through him during the seven years in which they tortured him. If God in His true knowledge permit us, we hope to make manifest to you in this encomium the exalted honours of Saint George, the valiant athlete and soldier of Christ, the holy and noble man of Melitene. For the subject under discussion weighs upon us and compels us to show you everything truly. My heart rejoices greatly within me this day and urges me to speak more especially in honour of Saint George the great luminary, whose festival is celebrated today throughout the whole world. To him the Lord testified by oath, saying, "I swear by Myself and by my Holy Father, and the Holy Spirit, that among all those born of women there is not one like unto John the Baptist, and that in the whole Army of Martyrs there is not one like unto thee, neither shall there be one like unto thee for ever. For thou shalt be more exalted than they all in the kingdom of heaven, and they all shall call thee, "George the beloved of God the Highest." I am afraid, O my beloved, to begin to speak in honour of this great illuminator and warrior, for I know the poverty of my intellect and the feebleness of my halting speech and that I shall not attain to the measure of his exalted and excellent contest. But I hope and trust that the Lord will send me the rays of the light of that valiant man to illuminate my heart and to quicken my halting tongue, that I may speak a few words in his honour to a Christ-loving congregation. and since the description of the honour of this valiant man, O beloved, is above the conception of every man upon earth, more especially of my humble tongue, I, who desire to speak in honour of holy Saint George, the valiant martyr, need wisdom from the Lord and a celestial tongue that I may not omit anything of the mighty and exalted contests of that noble and valiant man, which he fought before all people through his great endurance and bravery. And also, he is honourworthy for each deed of valour which he wrought with great sufferings and a great number of contests: and if the Lord permit we will set before you a few of them. But meanwhile we will set before you the qualities of which we have spoken of this brave soldier of Christ, Saint George. And what are these qualities ? His upright and unwavering faith in God; his certain hope; his sincere love; his compassion for every one and the whole human race; his gentleness to all creatures, both great and small; his benignity; his goodness; his zeal; his patient endurance of the cares of this life; his good disposition and the joy of his soul; the blamelessness of his heart; his taking his stand at the tribunal boldly; his freedom of speech before the governors, entirely without shame or fear of man, as David the Psalmist said, "I will speak thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed;" his patient endurance of tortures with great joy of heart; and the other sufferings which he bore for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of these contests we will set forth a few before you, as we promised to do in the beginning of the preface: the contests about which he heard that blessed voice of the Lord, saying, "As My Father has appointed Me a kingdom, so also will I appoint you who stand with Me in My temptation an unending and indestructible kingdom for ever." And again, "Ye shall eat and drink with Me in my kingdom." By reason of the words full of joy and every happiness Saint George was especially ready for the strife: and the remembrance of those good things made suffering light to him. He bore every thing with a ready will, for he was gladly prompt in every thing. Nothing stood in the way of his rigid resolution to suffer, for the sufferings of this world prepared him for the good things of the world to come, and patient endurance prepared for him the crown incorruptiblefor ever in heaven. We have extended our preface until now, O beloved, and have not as yet set forth before you the glorious and marvelworthy sufferings of Saint George the athletic martyr of Christ who warred and fought against impiety. But now we will proclaim to you the things which we have set down, together with those which we shall say after them.

The Role of St. George in the Life of St. Theodore Sykeote


St. George the Great Martyr played a pivitol role in the life of St. Theodore Sykeote, a sixth century Saint who is commemorated on April 22nd. In his Life we read the following:

When her full time was accomplished, Mary bore the servant of God; and after some days had passed, she carried him, as is the custom among Christians, to the Holy Church of the Orthodox and showed him to the priests who baptized him in the name of the Holy Trinity and named him 'Theodore', thus showing by this name that he would be the 'gift of God'. When the child was about six years old, his mother wanted him to enter the Emperor's service in the capital, so she made ready for him a gold belt and expensive clothes and everything else necessary, and then she prepared herself for the journey. On the night when she intended to start, God's holy martyr, St. George, appeared to her and said, 'What is this plan, lady, which you have made for the boy? Do not labour in vain, for the King in heaven has need of him'. And in the morning she arose and related her vision and wept saying, 'Assuredly death has drawn near to my boy'. After this she abandoned her journey. She wore herself away with increasing care of her son, and when he was eight years old she gave him to a teacher to be taught his letters. By the grace of God he was quicker at learning than all the other boys and made great progress

Synaxis of Panagia Voithia in Chios

Synaxis of Panagia Voithia (Feast Day - 8 Days After Pascha)

Verses

The Icon of the Theotokos displayed in the Monastery,
Gives joy and salvation to all.

Three kilometers from the city of Chios, built on a hill in Frangomahala overlooking the entire countryside of the island, is the Monastery of Panagia Voithia, built with a lot of sweat and longing by Saint Anthimos of Chios (Feb. 15) and completed in 1930.

While browsing the courtyard, one feels as if time has stopped. This is a phenomenon felt by every visitor. Inside the main church is the honorable skull of the Saint. Many visitors when entering this church, becoming witnesses of a strange heavenly fragrance, which has its source in the holy relic of the Saint.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"I Went to Christouli and Panagitsa High in Heaven": A Miracle of Sts. George and Raphael


Elias and Theophano Tsirambides, from Drosato in Kilkis, are the parents of three children. They related the following:

"On March 30th 2001 we took our little Michael, four and a half years old, to the General Hospital in Thessaloniki because of an unbearable stomach pain. With the appropriate tests they diagnosed him with an obstructive ileus, and operated on him for three and a half hours, removing half a meter of necrotic gut. Our doctors said that the child passed a very difficult situation, but was not out of danger yet. Monday evening he had a 40 degree (celsius) fever. Tuesday he was transferred to the ICU with sepsis and acute respiratory shock. His hopes of living were only 10%.

Homily on Saint George the Trophy-Bearer (Metr. Augoustinos Kantiotes)


By Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotes

(From a homily in the Holy Church of Saint George Lakkias, April 23rd, 1968)

Today is the feast of one of the greatest martyrs of our faith, of St. George the Trophy-bearer. This feast coincides with the most beautiful season. And, as our church chants today, let us run to the fields to pick flowers and weave wreaths to crown the hero of our Christian faith.

But to pick flowers is the easiest thing. We must do something else today, something higher and greater. What is this? We must get to know who this St. George was. And through this, I will try to give you a short answer.

Commentary on the Gospel for Thomas Sunday (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Commentary on the Gospel of John)

John 20:24, 25 - But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said unto them, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

The greatest marvels are always attended by incredulity, and any action which seems to exceed the measure of probability is ill-received by those who hear of it. But the sight of the eyes succeeds in banishing these doubts, and, as it were, compels a man by force to assent to the evidence before him. This was the state of mind of the wise Thomas, who did not readily accept the true testimony of the other disciples to our Savior's Resurrection, although, according to the Mosaic Law, in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. I think, however, that it was not so much that the disciple discredited what was told him, but rather that he was distracted with the utmost grief, because he had not been thought worthy to see our Savior with his own eyes. For he, perhaps, thought that he would never receive that blessing. He knew that the Lord was by nature Life, and that He was able to escape death itself, and to destroy the power of corruption; for surely He Who released others from its trammels could deliver His own flesh. In his exceeding great joy he affected incredulity, and though he well-nigh leapt in his ecstasy of delight, he longed to see Him before his very sight, and to be perfectly satisfied that He had risen again to life according to His promise. For our Savior said: "Children, a little while and you will behold Me no more; and again a little while, and you shall see Me, and your heart shall rejoice." I think that the disciple's lack of faith was extremely opportune and well-timed, in order that, through the satisfaction of his mind, we also who come after him might be unshaken in our faith that the very body that hung upon the Cross and suffered death was quickened by the Father through the Son. Therefore, also, Paul says: "Because if you shall say with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and shall believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." For since it was not the nature of flesh itself which brought back life, but the deed was rather accomplished by the working of the ineffable nature of God, in which naturally abides a quickening power, the Father through the Son manifested His power upon the Temple of Christ's body; not as though the Word was powerless to raise His own body, but because the Father does whatsoever He does through the Son, for He is His Power, and whatsoever the Son brings to effect proceeds also of a surety from the Father. We, therefore, are taught, through the slight lack of faith shown by the blessed Thomas, that the mystery of the Resurrection is effected upon our earthly bodies, and in Christ as the First-fruits of the race; and that He was no phantom or ghost, fashioned in human shape, and simulating the features of humanity, nor yet, as others have foolishly surmised, a spiritual body that is compounded of a subtle and ethereal substance different from the flesh. For some attach this meaning to the expression "spiritual body." For since all our expectation and the significance of our irrefutable faith, after the confession of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity, centers in the mystery concerning the flesh, the blessed Evangelist has very pertinently put this saying of Thomas side by side with the summary of what preceded. For observe that Thomas does not desire simply to see the Lord, but looks for the marks of the nails, that is, the wounds upon His body. For he affirmed that then, indeed, he would believe and agree with the rest that Christ had indeed risen again, and risen again in the flesh. For that which is dead may rightly be said to return to life, and the Resurrection surely was concerned with that which was subject unto death.

Thomas Sunday Resource Page


On this day, the second Sunday of Pascha, we inaugurate the celebration of the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection, which revolves in a weekly cycle, and also the saving confession of the Apostle Thomas when he saw the hands and side of the Risen Lord.

Verses

If the seals of the Virgin’s womb and of the grave did not hinder Thee,
How could the seals of the doors hinder Thy might, O Lord?

Pentecostarion Resource Page

THOMAS SUNDAY

Synaxarion For the Sunday of Saint Thomas

Commentary on the Gospel for Thomas Sunday (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Antipascha — Thomas Sunday Gospel Explanation

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Neophytos Kavsokalyvites (1689-1784), Initiator of the Kollyvades Movement


By John Sanidopoulos

Neophytos Kavsokalyvites (1689-1784) was a Greek monk and ecclesiastical writer, who initiated the movement known as the Kollyvades Movement. He was born in Patras when it was under Venetian occupation and where the economic and social situation was very bad, with increased taxes, and with the brutalities and abuses of Turkish officers. In Patras there was a Jewish community who were active commercially. In time these Jews married Greeks, thus becoming Christianized. It was to such a family that Neophytos was born, which is why he is often referred to as "Neophytos of the Jews". Neophytos was educated in the schools of Constantinople, Patmos and Ioannina, having as teachers Gerasimos Byzantios in Patmos and the wise Eugenios Voulgaris in Ioannina, where he specialized in rhetoric, logic, grammar, science and theology. He became a monk at the Skete of the Holy Trinity, known as Kavsokalyva, on the Holy Mountain of Athos after his studies in Constantinople, arriving at Mount Athos in 1723. Whether he arrived there as a Deacon or became a Deacon there is not known, though it is probably the latter. He was at Patmos from 1739 to 1744, then after studying in Ioannina he returned to Mount Athos.

Kollyvades Movement Resource Page

Holy Kollyvades Fathers (Feast Day - Bright Saturday)

Verses

Rejoice thou Kollyvades of Athos,
Now the Bride of Christ, the Church, rejoices.

+++

The Kollyvades sowed the knowledge of God,
Reaping a bounteous sheaf of life.

+++

Let us rest on this Bright Day,
Crowning the Kollyvades as workers of light.


About

Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Kollyvades Fathers

The "Kollyvades" Fathers of the Holy Mountain

The Kollyvades Movement and its Significance


The great teachers of the Church and of the Greek nation, Makarios Notaras, Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Athanasios of Paros, who lived and worked in the 18th and early 19th centuries, form a new trinity of shining lights of the Church, like the Three Hierarchs of the Church in the past, relatively speaking of course and bearing in mind the historical circumstances they lived through with their similarities and differences. To these three must be added Neophytos of Kavsokalyva, who started the movement, although he was not as important or active as the other three would later become, thus earning their place in the Communion of Saints. They were nicknamed "Kollyvades" by their opponents on the Holy Mountain because they objected to the transfer of the memorial services (involving kollyva) from Saturday to Sunday in defiance of tradition, rightly judging that services for the dead are incompatible with the resurrectional and festal nature of Sunday.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Synaxis of Panagia of Ampelokipoi in Larisa

Panagia of Ampelokipoi (Feast Day - Bright Friday)

By Fr. Konstantinos Delichristos
(Parish Priest)

By the end of the Ottoman occupation, the residents of Tambakika (Ampelokipoi) attended church at the neighboring Cathdedral of Saint Achilles. In 1877 the Chapel of Panagia Phaneromeni was built in a central part of the neighborhood together with a cemetery.

Shortly after this that same year, there appeared a nun named Theophania, who was determined to work unpaid at the chapel and at the memorials of the cemetery. Theophania considered it an ascetic practice to look after the graves on a daily basis, having in mind the Wisdom of Sirach: "In everything you do, remember your end, and you will never sin" (7:36). Theophania settled near the chapel in a small cell where she performed her monastic rule.

Oikos, Kontakion, Canon to the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring


Kontakion.
Plagal of the Fourth Tone.

O Lady, full of grace divine, you ever grant to me your grace's waters, which are gushing forth continually from your never-failing Spring, beyond understanding. You gave birth to God the Logos inexplicably, so I pray you that your gift of grace refreshes me, that I may cry to you, "Rejoice, water of deliverance!"

Narrations Concerning the Holy Fathers in Sinai (St. Anastasios of Sinai)


By St. Anastasios of Sinai

1. Ten years ago a certain two of the fathers of Holy Mount Sinai went up to worship on the Holy Summit. One of them is still alive. When they arrived at a distance of about two bow-shot from (the chapel of) Saint Elias they smelled a fragrance unlike any worldly fragrance. Then the disciple thought that the one who dwelt there was offering incense. The elder, his spiritual guide who is still living said, “The fragrance is not of this earth.”

Therefore, approaching the church, behold they saw within it like a fiery flaming kiln with tongues of fire coming from all the doors (and windows). Then, seeing this the disciple feared the sight. But the elder reassured him saying, “Why are you afraid, my child. It is an angelic power and our fellow servant; don’t lose courage. They venerate our nature in heaven; not we theirs.” Thus they fearlessly entered the church as if (going) into a kiln. They prayed and thus they ascended to the summit in the morning.

Beholding them, the guardian (of the peak) saw their faces glorified and shining like the face of Moses and he said to them, “Did you see anything unusual coming up?” Wanting to conceal the matter, they said, “No”. Then he said to them, Believe me, you saw some vision for behold your faces are radiant with the glory of the Holy Spirit.” They bowed to him and related the matter, asking that he tell nobody.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How Should We Understand the Visions of Aerial Toll Houses?


By John Sanidopoulos

In modern times a teaching has arisen and become popular among Orthodox Christians regarding what is known as the Aerial or Celestial Toll Houses. It is based on numerous references to ecclesiastical fathers and writers from the early days of the Church to the present. It was especially developed after the tenth century in Slavic circles, while hardly ever mentioned in any detail by Greek writers. Taken literally, it refers to the idea that upon death the soul of an individual is escorted by angels through the celestial atmosphere, and it goes through a number of tolls or customs where demons accuse the soul of particular sins they committed in life. The escorting angel tries to defend the soul as much as possible, but if a soul is found to be guilty of a particular sin, then with the evidence mounted against the soul the demon takes it and drags it to Hades. This is a foretaste of the Final Judgment, when these condemned souls will be united with their bodies in the general resurrection and cast into the eternal lake of fire with Satan and his demons.

Old Cypriot Easter Customs


Cypriot tradition says that on Pascha (Easter) people must wear new shoes and clothes. In the olden days, even the masters offered their apprentices either new garments or shoes on Pascha.

It was also customary for the wood used in the great fire, which was lit outside the church to burn an effigy of Judas, to be stolen. It was the young people who usually undertook the theft, and they would then gather in the courtyard of the church.

It is still believed in Cyprus that if someone is sleeping during the Good Word (Καλού Λόγο), which takes place at midnight of Pascha Sunday between "Come receive the light" and the singing of the first "Christ is risen," will have a problem with rabbits because they will eat their crops and vines. This also applied to those who slept during the Resurrection Divine Liturgy that followed, and usually lasts till about 3:00AM. This encouraged people to stay awake during this celebratory time, and some even said it applied to those who slept in on Sunday mornings and didn't attend the Divine Liturgy. They say those who sleep during the time of the Divine Liturgy, especially that of Pascha, are as if sleeping in fire.

The First Miracle After the Lord's Resurrection - Entering a Room With Shut Doors


By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Commentary on the Gospel of John)

John 20:19, 20 - When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said unto them, "Peace be unto you." And when He had said this, He showed unto them His hands and His side.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why We Read the Gospel of John After Pascha and Not Before


By Protopresbyter Fr. John Romanides

It is a fact that the Gospel of John is not occupied with the casting out of Satan and the demons in the systematic manner of the Synoptic Gospels. In the fourth Gospel, at first glance, Satan does not appear to hold the central position he has in the Synoptics. But this can be explained if O. Cullmann's conclusions[1] regarding the character of the fourth Gospel are taken into account and related to the ancient Church's practices pertaining to catechumens.

Holy New Martyrs Christodoulos and Anastasia of Patras (+ 1821)

Sts. Christodoulos and Anastasia of Patras (Feast Day - Bright Tuesday)

When the Revolution of 1821 began, Patras fell into a degraded state. A mother with her two daughters and a son, a wealthy family, attempted to flee to the French Embassy in order to escape harm. They did not succeed. Arrested by the Turks, they were brought to Pasha Yusuf. They begged on their knees to be spared, but the Pasha was firm. Their only solution to avoid death was to change their faith. They lamented and grieved the threat, and trembled from fear of death. Eventually they denied Christ, and entered the harem of the Pasha.

Greek Easter at the Gulf of Smyrna in 1835 as Witnessed by an American


The following account, written in 1835 and published in 1839, was recorded by the American traveler John G. Stephens, in his travelogue titled Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia and Poland. It took place in the Gulf of Smyrna, specifically in Foggi, which in ancient times was called Phocaea, and today in Turkish is known as Foca. At times it is critical of the piety of the simple Greek people, being written by a Protestant, yet behind the criticism there is much to be gleaned.

Not being able to find any place where we could sleep ashore, except on one of the mats of the coffee-house, head and heels with a dozen Turks, we went on board, and towards morning again got under weigh. We beat up to the mouth of the Gulf of Smyrna, but, with the sirocco blowing directly in our teeth, it was impossible to go farther. We made two or three attempts to enter; but in tacking the last time, our old brig, which had hardly ballast enough to keep her keel under water, received such a rough shaking that we got her away before the wind, and at three o'clock P.M., were again anchored in the harbour of Foggi. I now began to think that there was a spell upon my movements, and that Smyrna, which was becoming to me a sort of land of promise, would never greet my longing eyes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How Were the Disciples Able to Touch Jesus After the Resurrection When Mary Magdalene Could Not?


By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Commentary on the Gospel of John)

Luke 20:22, 23, 26, 27 - "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said unto them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whosesoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven unto them; whosesoever sins you retain, they are retained.' ... And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, 'Peace be unto you.' Then said He to Thomas, 'Reach out your finger, and see My hands; and reach out your hand, and put it into My side. Be not faithless, but believing.'"

After dignifying the holy Apostles with the glorious distinction of the apostleship, and appointing them ministers and priests of the Divine Altar, as I have just said, He at once sanctifies them by vouchsafing His Spirit unto them, through the outward sign of His breath, that we might be firmly convinced that the Holy Spirit is not alien to the Son, but Consubstantial with Him, and through Him proceeding from the Father; He shows that the gift of the Spirit necessarily attends those who are ordained by Him to be Apostles of God....

Rick Steves’ European Easter: Greek Orthodox Celebrations (Video)


Bright Tuesday Resource Page


Bright Week Resource Page

Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene Resource Page

179 Newly-Revealed Martyrs of Ntaou Penteli

The Appearance of the Iveron Portaitissa Icon

Monday, April 17, 2017

Why Did The Lord Forbid Mary Magdalene From Touching Him After His Resurrection?


By St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 86 on the Gospel of John)

John 20:17 - "Jesus said to her, 'Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended unto My Father.'"

Some assert, that she asked for spiritual grace, because she had heard Him when with the disciples say, "If I go to the Father, I will ask Him, and He shall give you another Comforter." But how could she who was not present with the disciples have heard this? Besides, such an imagination is far from the meaning here. And how should she ask, when He had not yet gone to the Father? What then is the sense? I think that she wished still to converse with Him as before, and that in her joy she perceived nothing great in Him, although He had become far more excellent in the Flesh. To lead her therefore from this idea, and that she might speak to Him with much awe, (for neither with the disciples does He henceforth appear so familiar as before,) He raises her thoughts, that she should give more reverent heed to Him.

From Easter to Pentecost in Fourth Century Jerusalem According to Nun Egeria

Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives

Egeria was a nun who authored a detailed account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the early 380s, making it the earliest of the kind. Regarding Easter Sunday and the fifty days that follow until Pentecost Sunday, she writes:

Services in the Easter Octave.*

Moreover, the Paschal days are kept up to a late hour as with us, and the dismissals take place in their order throughout the eight Paschal days, as is the custom everywhere at Easter throughout the Octave. But the adornment (of the churches) and order (of the services) here are the same throughout the Octave of Easter as they are during Epiphany, in the greater church, in the Anastasis, at the Cross, in Eleona, in Bethlehem, as well as in the Lazarium, in fact, everywhere, because these are the Paschal days.

Synaxis of the Panagia Pantanassa at Mystras

Synaxis of Panagia Pantanassa at Mystras
(Feast Day - Bright Monday, or Thomas Sunday if St. George is celebrated on Bright Monday)


Verses

Revered Pantanassa the glory of Mystras,
Temple of Pantanassa the glory of the Queen.

Panagia Pantanassa Monastery is a monastery in Mystras, Greece. It was founded by a chief minister of the late Roman Despotate of the Morea, John Frankopoulos, and was dedicated in September of 1428. The name and position of the donor are mentioned in an inscription in the western gallery, and in monograms carved on the impost of a column of the nave. It is the only monastery at Mystras still permanently inhabited, serving as a convent for nuns.

Bright Week Resource Page


Holy Week Resource Page

Pentecostarion Resource Page


BRIGHT WEEK (or RENEWAL WEEK)

What Is "Bright Week"?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Holy Pascha Resource Page


On the Holy and Great Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the life-bearing Resurrection of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ.

Verses

Christ descended to do battle with Hades alone;
He ascended after taking many spoils of victory.

Holy Week Resource Page

Pentecostarion Resource Page

Bright Week Resource Page


Saturday, April 15, 2017

How Christ Buries Himself In Us In Order To Raise Us (St. Symeon the New Theologian)


By St. Symeon the New Theologian

Let us look and carefully examine what is the mystery of that Resurrection of Christ our God that occurs mystically in us at all times, if we are willing.

Let us examine how Christ is buried in us as in a sepulchre and how He unites Himself to our souls and rises again, raising us with Himself….

Christ our God was suspended on the Cross and, having nailed thereto the sin of the world and having tasted death, He descended into the nethermost depths of Hades.

He returned from Hades into His own immaculate body, from which His Divinity had in no way been separated as He descended thither, and at once He rose from the dead.

Thereafter, He ascended to Heaven with great glory and power.

A Second Century Paschal Miracle in Jerusalem


In the second century, there was a Bishop of Jerusalem whose name was Narcissus, that is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on August 7th. Saint Narcissus is noted for working many miracles in his lifetime, some of which were recorded for us in the early fourth century by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 6, Ch. 9). There he records a miracle that took place in the year 162, during the Paschal Vigil of Holy Saturday. Eusebius writes:

Holy Saturday in Fourth Century Jerusalem According to Nun Egeria


Egeria was a nun who authored a detailed account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in the early 380s, making it the earliest of the kind. Regarding the Saturday of Holy Week, she writes:

Saturday of Holy Week

Paschal Vigil.

Now, on the next day, the Sabbath, everything that is customary is done at the third hour and also at the sixth; the service at the ninth hour, however, is not held on the Sabbath, but the Paschal vigils are prepared in the great church, the Martyrium.* The Paschal vigils are kept as with us, with this one addition, that the children when they have been baptized and clothed, and when they issue from the font, are led with the bishop first to the Anastasis.**

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2017


Today in Jerusalem the Holy Light, known in the West as Holy Fire, once again descended into the Tomb of Christ as Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem knelt in prayer within the Holy Sepulchre. With 33 candles in each hand he distributed the Holy Light to all the faithful, amidst great joy and celebration. From Jerusalem it will be distributed throughout the world.

"The Conqueror of Death" (An Orthodox Holy Week Documentary)


"The Conqueror of Death" is a documentary film that describes the days of so-called Passion Week (the week in which Christ suffered and died) and Easter Sunday (the day that Christ resurrected).

The film is designed so as to explain to a wider audience the implications of these events and the significance of the Resurrection of Christ, and therefore the meaning of Theanthropic feats of salvation.

The Divine Services and the Monastery life in the days of Passion Week and the Resurrection were recorded by Cinnamon production from Belgrade in Dečani Monastery between 2009-2012.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Holy and Great Saturday Resource Page


On Holy and Great Saturday, we celebrate the Burial of the Divine Body of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and His descent into Hades, through which our race was recalled from corruption, and was transplanted to eternal life.

Verses

In vain you watchmen guard the tomb.
No grave can contain the Source of Life.

Synaxarion for Holy and Great Saturday

On the Lord's Passion, Death and Descent into Hades (St. John of Damascus)

What Did the Crucified Christ Mean When He Said "It Is Finished"?


By St. Cyril of Jerusalem

(Commentary on John)

John 19:30 - "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, 'It is finished,' and He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit."

When this indignity [the giving of vinegar] had been added to the rest, the Savior exclaimed, "It is finished," meaning that the measure of the iniquity of the Jews, and of their furious rage against Him, was completed. For what had the Jews left untried, and what extremity of atrocity had they not practiced against Him? For what kind of insult was omitted, and what crowning act of outrage do they seem to have left undone? Therefore rightly did He exclaim, "It is finished," the hour already summoning Him to preach to the spirits in hades.*

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