Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Holy Hieromartyr Proterios, Patriarch of Alexandria (+ 457)

St. Proterios of Alexandria (Feast Day - February 28)

Verses

Proterios is slain by reeds,
Who sharply wrote with a reed against error.

Saint Proterius lived in Alexandria during the patriarchal tenure of Dioscorus (444-451), an adherent of the Monophysite heresy of Eutyches. Proterios fearlessly denounced the heretics and confessed the Orthodox faith.

Holy Apostles Nymphas and Eubulus of the Seventy

Sts. Nymphas and Eubulus the Apostles (Feast Day - February 28)

Verses

The two apostles of Christ were planted by Christ,
Eubulus and Nymphas together being associated with Christ.

The Holy Apostles Nymphas and Eubulus were disciples of the Apostle Paul.

Nymphas is mentioned by Paul in his epistle to the Colossians (4:15): "Greet Nymphas and the church that meets in his house."

Holy Hieromartyr Nestor, Bishop of Megydos

St. Nestor of Megydos (Feast Day - February 28)

Verses

Having neither form nor beauty on the wood,
Nestor laid out, the prophetic declaration.

Pollio, governor of Pamphylia and Phrygia during the reign of Decius (249-251), sought to curry favour with the emperor by the cruelty with which he enforced his edict against the Christians. At that time the bishop of Magydos was Nestor, who was held in great respect by Christians and pagans alike. He realized that he was a marked man, but his only care was for his flock whom he sent to places of safety whilst he remained quietly at home to pray for his people and await his fate. He was actually at prayer when he was told that the officers of justice had come for him. They greeted him respectfully, and he said, "My sons, what brings you here?" They replied, "The irenarch and the curia summon you."

Saint Basil the Confessor

St. Basil the Confessor (Feast Day - February 28)

Verses

Basil carried Christ in his soul,
Overshadowing his soul with His grace.
On the twenty-eighth the image of Basil was hidden under the earth.

Saint Basil lived during the reign of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian (717-741). At a young age he became a monastic, and occupied himself with extreme asceticism. He bravely resisted the iconoclasts on behalf of the honor and veneration of holy icons. For this he was arrested and punished, proclaiming the truth of Orthodoxy. As a co-sufferer he had Saint Prokopios the Decapolite, who is celebrated on February 27th. After having his body and neck lacerated and flayed, he was cast into prison.

Saint John Cassian Resource Page

St. John Cassian the Roman (Feast Day - February 29)

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Synaxarion of Saint John Cassian the Roman

Saint John Cassian the Roman as a Model for our Lives


Monday, February 27, 2017

Saint Stephen, Who Organized a Home for the Elderly in Armatios (+ 614)

St. Stephen, Who Organized a Home for the Aged (Feast Day - February 27)

Verses

In old age Stephen presided over the passage of life,
In death he presides over the crowning with crowns.

Saint Stephen served as a courtier of the Emperor Maurice (582-602). After retiring from public service, he founded a hospice for the elderly (gerokomeion), which abutted on a hostel for strangers. It is noteworthy that this is the only home for the aged, out of twenty-seven that existed in Constantinople, which had been operating until the fall of Constantinople (last mention in 1446). It was located on the Golden Horn gulf in the vicinity of the Plateia Gate (today known as Un Kapanı Kapısi), in the Armatios district. Saint Stephen reposed in peace in the year 614.

Saint Prokopios the Decapolite and Confessor

St. Prokopios the Decapolite (Feast Day - February 27)

Verses

Not to one of the cities of the earth Decapolite,
But towards a noetic city were you appointed.
On the twenty-seventh the end of Prokopios was manifested.

This Saint was from Decapolis of Isauria, a mountainous region of Asia Minor. In his youth, he devoted himself to a life of asceticism, and accomplished all prescribed efforts by which the heart is purified and the spirit elevated to God. When a persecution began by the nefarious Emperor Leo the Isaurian (717-741) regarding icons, Prokopios rose up in defense of icons showing that the veneration of icons is not idolatry; for Christians know that in honoring icons they do not either bow down or honor lifeless material but rather honor living saints who are depicted on the icons. Because of that, Prokopios was arrested, brutally tortured, flogged and scrapped with an iron brush. For this he became known as a Confessor of the Faith. He endured these tortures and was imprisoned with his fellow Confessor, Saint Basil (Feb. 28). When the wicked Emperor Leo was slain in the body, for he had lost his soul earlier, icons were restored in the churches and Prokopios returned to his monastery where he spent the remainder of his days in peace and he was granted the grace to work miracles. In old age, he was translated to the kingdom of God where he gazes with joy upon the living angels and saints, whose images on icons he honored on earth. He reposed peacefully in 750.

Fasting as a Weapon in Spiritual Warfare (St. Isaac the Syrian)


By St. Isaac the Syrian

The Savior began the work of our salvation with fasting. In the same way, all those who follow in the footsteps of the Savior build on this foundation the beginning of their endeavor, since fasting is a weapon established by God. Who will escape blame if he neglects this? If the Lawgiver Himself fasts, how can any of those who have to obey the law be exempt from fasting? This is why the human race knew no victory before fasting, and the devil was never defeated by our nature as it is: but this weapon has indeed deprived the devil of strength from the outset. 

What We Often Call Fasting Is Not Fasting


By Archbishop Nikephoros Theotokis (+ 1800)

Those who avoid fasting, fearing they will harm their health, they are unlearned and of little faith, not knowing what is true fasting, thinking that fasting is the abstention only of four or six types of foods. When we fast, we search the earth and sea up and down: the earth in order to collect seeds, produce, fruit, spices, and every other kind of growing edible; the sea to find shellfish, mollusks, snails, sea-urchins, and anything edible therein. We prepare dry foods, salted foods, pickled foods, and sweet foods, and from these ingredients we concoct many and motley dishes, seasoned with oil, wine, sweeteners, and spices. Then we fill the table even more than when we are eating meat. Moreover, since these foods stimulate the appetite, we eat and drink beyond moderation. And after this we imagine that we are fasting. Such fasting truly does harm, because the aforesaid foods are indigestible, unwholesome, spicy; from these they become juicy, undigested, of a bad temperament, salty, acidic. Thus from these come indigestion, an unhealthy state of the humors, saltiness, spiciness and many other bothersome diseases of the soul and body.

A Homily to Encourage Fasting (St. Gregory Palamas)


HOMILY SEVEN: ANOTHER ON FASTING

By Saint Gregory Palamas

THE CALM SEA, RADIANT AND BRIGHT with sparkling light, reflecting the dawn on its smooth surface, is a pleasant sight to the eyes. But it is far more delightful not just to see but to address the church gathered together according to God's will, freed from disturbances, illuminated mysteriously by the divine light, stirred up towards that light's dawn, with hands and eyes, all the senses and the mind uplifted. The grace of the Spirit has today granted me this agreeable sight. You are all spending your nights and days together here in God's temple, and by your unceasing attendance upon Him you could be regarded as heavenly trees planted by the streams of the water of the Spirit. So may I now assist these streams as far as I am able. As you have offered your daytime prayers in addition to your early morning prayers, may we, as far as time allows, offer an evening sermon in addition to the one this morning, that we might show you openly all the different kinds of tricks to which the enemy of our salvation turns his hand to render not only our fasting but also our prayer worthless.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Homily on the Banishment and Repentance of Adam and Every Christian (St. Symeon the New Theologian)


Homily 66

The Banishment and Repentance of Adam and Every Christian

By St. Symeon the New Theologian

1. CONCERNING THE BANISHMENT OF ADAM FROM PARADISE, AND THAT IF HE HAD REPENTED AFTER TRANSGRESSING THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD, HE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN BANISHED FROM PARADISE.

In the beginning God created man as the king of everything earthly, and not only of everything earthly, but of everything under the vault of heaven; for the sun also and the moon and the stars were created for man. And so being king of all this visible world, did man endure from this any kind of harm for his virtue? No, he did not. On the contrary, if he had always given thanks for this to God Who had created him, and had dedicated all of this to Him, he would have advanced yet more in virtues. And if he had not transgressed the commandment of God, of course, he would not have lost the kingdom which he had, and he would not have fallen away from the glory of God. But since he transgressed the commandment of God, he was justly banished from paradise and began to live in labors and cares, and died in banishment.

Saint Photini the Samaritan Resource Page

St. Photini the Great Martyr (Feast Days - February 26 & Sunday of the Samaritan Woman)

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Synaxarion of Saint Photini the Samaritan Woman and Those Martyred With Her

Saint Photini, the Chosen Evangelist


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Holy Hieromartyr Reginos, Bishop of Skopelos (+ 362)

Saint Reginos of Skopelos (Feast Day - February 25)

Verses

You were unshaken Reginos in your zeal,
Although you were terribly shaken by the bitter sword.

Saint Reginos was born towards the end of the third century at Livadia in Boetia to Christian parents. Due to his virtuous way of life he was elected to be ordained Bishop of the island of Skopelos. He attended the Synod of Sardica (now Sofia in Bulgaria) which met in 343, where he delivered an able refutation of Arianism and Eusebianism, which continued to rage even after the Synod in Nicaea in 325.

Saint Tarasios Resource Page

St. Tarasios of Constantinople (Feast Day - February 25)

Verses

The people received salvation from the tumult of the storm,
From Tarasios who was anchored and unwashed by the waves.
On the twenty-fifth Tarasios flew away from commotion.

Synaxarion of Saint Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople

Saint Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 806)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Is Heaven and Hell Here and Now?


By John P. Bougas

The Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Last Judgment is about hell and eternal life, or more generally about the future life, or better on the future existence and non-existence of humanity.

Often we hear that heaven and hell are here and now and we pay for everything here. This is said by people who do not believe in the existence of a future life. However it is also said by religious people and even Christians, who are carried away by the passion for vengeance against others who did something bad to them and they say, "now they are being punished," considering that since they did wrong to them they are paying for it in this life or in their ignorance believe in a punishing and vengeful God.

Sozomen's Account of the Discovery of the Head of Saint John the Forerunner


Below is the account of Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History Bk. 7, Ch. 21, where he records the discovery of the head of St. John the Baptist:

About this time* the head of John the Baptist, which Herodias had asked of Herod the tetrarch, was removed to Constantinople. It is said that it was discovered by some monks of the Macedonian heresy,** who originally dwelt at Constantinople, and afterwards fixed their abode in Cilicia. Mardonius, the first eunuch of the palace, made known this discovery at court, during the preceding reign; and Valens commanded that the relic should be removed to Constantinople. The officers appointed to carry it there, placed it in a public chariot, and proceeded with it as far as Panteichion, a district in the territory of Chalcedon. Here the mules of the chariot suddenly stopped, and neither the application of the lash, nor the threats of the hostlers, could induce them to advance further. So this extraordinary event was considered by all, and even by the emperor himself, to be of God; and the holy head was therefore deposited at Kosilaos, a village in the neighborhood, which belonged to Mardonius.

Saint Erasmus of the Kiev Caves Monastery (c. 1160)


Saint Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (May 10), wrote about Saint Erasmus to his friend Saint Polycarp of the Kiev Caves (July 24):

"At the Caves was Erasmus the black-robed. He acquired a legacy of fame because he used everything he possessed for the adornment of the monastery church. He donated many icons, which even now may be seen over the altar.

Let Us Forget All That Divides Us


Let us forget all that divides us: hostility, competition, superficiality and hatred. Let us only think of where we are going and before Whom we will stand. Let us understand that all it takes to stand worthily before the Lord, to be able to accept us, is to accept and forgive each other with love, to support the weak on this path, to strengthen the sick, to give hope to the hopeless, and help everyone arrive at the goal.

- Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Surouzh

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Ascetic Corrective (Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople)


The Ascetic Corrective

By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Lecture at the Ustein Monastery, Norway in 2003

This session marks the opening of the Sailing Seminar on the North Sea. It takes place within the walls of a strategically-placed monastery at the entrance of the magnificent and unique Ryfylke fjords, where the marine traffic along this coast was once controlled. Inhabited as an island from as early as the Bronze Age, it has been a special haven for monks of the Augustinian Order since the Middle Ages. This monastic setting surely provides for us an ideal opportunity to assess the importance and impact of the phenomenon and experience of monasticism in general for the ecological balance of our world.

At the conclusion of the service for the tonsure of an Orthodox monk or nun, the newly-received member of the monastic brotherhood or convent stands before the entire community bearing three simple tokens: a cross, a candle and a prayer-rope. The first two symbols – the cross and the candle – standing as we are today in this historic and royal monastery of Utstein, are a powerful reminder of the ecological corrective offered by the monastic way of life. The monk and the nun, representative of all the Christian faithful, and indeed of the whole world, are an image of the spirit of asceticism or self-restraint and of a light that illumines and protects the world in the face of every form of spiritual darkness.

Saint Polycarp's Letter to the Philippians


The Letter to the Philippians by Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, is his only letter, of several, that is extant. The Letter to the Philippians is connected with the martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius passed through Smyrna about the year 110 on his journey to Rome where he suffered martyrdom. He was well received by the Church of Smyrna, Polycarp, and its bishops before his guards took him to Philippi where again the local Christians visited him. The Philippians having learned that St. Ignatius had corresponded with St. Polycarp and other Churches in Asia Minor, subsequently requested copies of these letters from Polycarp.

Polycarp responded with his Letter to the Philippians that, in addition to being the cover letter for the copies of St. Ignatius' letters they had requested, urged the faithful of Philippi to stand fast in their faith, avoid heretical teachings, look to the example of those who were martyred such as St. Ignatius and his companions Zosimus and Rufus, and to persevere in philanthropy and good works.

Saint Polycarp and the Great Fire of Smyrna

St. Polycarp Extinguishing the Great Fire of Smyrna (Church of Saint Polycarp, Izmir)

In the Great Synaxaristes we read of the following miracle of Saint Polycarp:

It happened that a great and terrible conflagration broke out in Smyrna. Not only within the city were people and homes consumed in the path of the flames, but also in the surrounding pasturage, sown fields, vineyards, trees and animals. This evil swept the area for seven days and nights. The mindless and benighted idolaters invoked the help of their gods, but for nought did the hapless ones toil. It seemed the more they besought their images, the wrath of God and the fire intensified. 

Our Venerable Fathers Zebinas, Polychronios, Moses and Damian

Sts. Zebinas, Polychronios, Moses and Damian (Feast Day - February 23)

Verses

To Zebinas
Divine Zebinas arrives at divinity with his end,
For he left behind life with men.

To Polychronios, Damian and Moses
Polychronios and his two fellow ascetics,
The three together fulfilled the years of their lives.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus in Syria

1. Zebinas is praised even today by those who have had the privilege of seeing him.1 He is said, on reaching extreme old age, to have practiced the same labors till his death, without being compelled by the great burden of old age to change any of those of his youth. He surpassed, they said, all the men of his time in assiduity at prayer; spending all day and night at it, he not only did not experience satiety, but he made his longing all the more fervent. He would say but a few words to those who came to see him, for he could not bear to draw his thought down from heaven; and as soon as he was free of them, he would again address supplication as if he had been separated for not even a short time from the God of the universe. When old age did not allow him to bear without pain continuous standing, he used a stick as a support for it, and leaned on this when hymning the Master and when praying.

Our Venerable Fathers John, Moses, Antiochus and Antininus

Sts. John, Moses, Antiochus and Antoninus (Feast Day - February 23)

Verses

The regiment of four honorable men,
You collected together and changed their lives for the better.

These four venerable fathers lived in the mountains near Cyrus in Syria as open-air ascetics in the fifth century. John was a friend and disciple of Saint Limnaios (Feb. 22), and from him was inspired to imitate his example of living at the edge of a mountain in the open air, wearing a goatskin, loaded with heavy chains, and living on nothing but bread and salt. Moses, Antiochus and Antoninus also embraced this same type of life. All these men were still alive when Bishop Theodoret wrote the account of their lifestyle and example below.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Saint Ariston the Wonderworker, Bishop of Arsinoe in Cyprus

St. Ariston of Arsinoe (Feast Day - February 22)

Saint Ariston (or Aristos) most probably was born in Paphos and lived at the end of the fourth and early fifth century. He was the second consecutive Bishop of Arsinoe. The first was someone by the name of Nicholas. Nicholas was followed by Ariston and later by Saints Nikon and Arkadios. Saint Neophytos the Recluse wrote a brilliant eulogy about these Saints and considers them equal in worthiness with the Three Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church - Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom: "The wondrous Arkadios, and the one named after victory, Nikon the Great, and Ariston the famous, who excels in contest against demons, the three-voiced lyre of the Spirit, the three-layered base of the Church...." After living a virtuous life and shepherding his flock with zeal and good works, he reposed in peace.

Holy Hieromartyr Telesphorus, Pope of Rome (+ 138)

St. Telesphorus the Martyr (Feast Day - February 22)

Verses

The beheading of Telesphorus brought fruits,
  Bearing a noble end as a seed.

Our Holy Father Telesphorus was a Greek from Terranova da Sibari in the Calabria region of southern Italy, whose name in Greek signifies to "bring fruit to perfection." According to both Irenaeus of Lyon and Eusebius of Caesarea, he was the seventh Pope of Rome. Eusebius places the beginning of his pontificate in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (128–129) and gives the date of his death as being in the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (138–139).

Saint Athanasios the Confessor of Paulopetrion Monastery (+ 826)

St. Athanasios the Confessor (Feast Day - February 22)

Verses

Athanasios, stock of Paulopetrion,
Associated with the Apostles, Paul and Peter.

Our Venerable Father Athanasios was born in Constantinople to a pious and wealthy family. From childhood he earnestly desired the monastic life, so he entered the Monastery of Paulopetrion on the Gulf of Nicomedia in Bithynia. There he attained through ascetic struggle its lofty fruits, namely the virtues. Soon after he became Abbot of this Monastery, persecution broke out during the reign of Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820), who restored Iconoclasm. Athanasios quickly came to the defense of the faith, signing with other Abbots two letters which his friend Saint Theodore the Studite addressed to Pope Paschal I of Rome (817-824). Numerous iconodule monks of the east, who had been exiled, went to Rome, where they were received kindly.

Holy Martyr Anthusa and her Twelve Servants

St. Anthusa and her Twelve Servants (Feast Day - February 22)

Verses

Your household servants, Anthusa, were found to be well-disposed,
You were killed by the sword, together with them killed by the sword.

Saint Anthusa and her twelve servants were martyred together by the sword.

Holy Martyr Synetus

St. Synetus the Martyr (Feast Day - February 22)

Verses

Synetus chants although he is slain by the sword,
"I beheld men acting foolishly and I pined away."

Saint Synetus was martyred by being beheaded with the sword. This may be the same person as the Holy Martyr Synetus of Rome, a Reader, tortured and beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to idols in the third century, who celebrates on December 12. See Holy Martyr Synetus of Rome.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Saint John III the Scholastic, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 577)

St. John the Scholastic of Constantinople (Feast Day - February 21);
the icon above depicts All the Holy Patriarchs of Constantinople



Verses

The scholastic sacrificer of Christ died,
And now your distant rest brings pain.

Saint John the Scholastic, also known as John of Antioch, was born in Sirmis, which is near Antioch. He was educated as a jurist and practiced law before his ordination to the priesthood. He came to be known as "scholastic" or "scholastikos" due to his education as a lawyer and rhetorician, being a term for those who appeared in court or in public in some way. In 533 Emperor Justinian I (527-565) suppressed the college of lawyers in Antioch, so John was ordained to the priesthood, and became agent and secretary of the Church of Antioch. Patriarch Anastasios I of Antioch (561–571 and 593–599) sent John to Constantinople to serve as his legate there. This would bring him into touch with the court at Constantinople. When Justinian, towards the close of his life, tried to raise the sect of the Aphthartodocetae to the rank of orthodoxy in order to promote unity of his subjects, and determined to expel Patriarch Eutychios of Constantinople (552-565) for his opposition, the able lawyer-ecclesiastic of Antioch, who had already distinguished himself by his great edition of the canons, was chosen to carry out the imperial will. Therefore Eutychios was exiled to Amaseia, and John was elevated to the patriarchal throne on April 12, 565.

Synaxarion of our Holy Father Eustathios, Archbishop of Antioch

St. Eustathios of Antioch (Feast Day - February 21)

Verses

Eustathios was as far as life and breath,
Exceedingly steadfast against the breath of the enemies of God.

Eustathios the divine Confessor lived during the reign of the first Christian emperor Constantine the Great (306-337). He was from Side in Pamphylia, as Jerome says in his "On Ecclesiastical Writers". Niketas says he was from Philippi in Macedonia. This Saint was a teacher, and sent by the wisdom of his words the rays of Orthodoxy throughout the ecumene. He was also present at the First Ecumenical Synod of Nicaea, which gathered in 325, keeping the dogma of piety and Orthodoxy, while rebuking and overturning the Arians. These mindless ones had introduced a cutting and division into the one nature of the Holy Trinity, calling the Son of God a creature, and dividing Him from the essence and honor and worthiness with His consubstantial Father.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Synaxarion of our Holy Father Leo the Wonderworker, Bishop of Catania

St. Leo of Catania (Feast Day - February 20)

Verses

Leo was indeed dead, but deemed not to decay,
Called by all, the president of Catania.
On the twentieth Leo was buried in the earth and poured forth liquid.

Saint Leo lived during the reign of Leo the Wise (886-912),* and was from the Italian city of Ravenna, the son of pious and noble parents. Due to the purity of his life, he went through all the stages of the priesthood, becoming a Reader, Subdeacon, Deacon and Presbyter. Lastly, by divine election, he became Bishop of the metropolis of Catania, which is found in the very famous island of Sicily, and where Mount Etna is located, which bursts forth flames of fire till this day. This blessed one, who bore the name of a prevailing lion, and having zeal for good and virtue, shined like a luminary in that place. In this way he attended souls, was a protector of widows, consoled the poor, dispersed the darkness of error, and by his prayers he toppled an idol statue to the earth.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Dreadful Day of Judgment


The Dreadful Day[1]

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

"Let us proclaim" again today "not only one coming of Christ, but a second also, much better than the one prior, because the first was a demonstration of patience, while the next will bring the reign of the divine kingdom."[2] With these words, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem refers to the Second Coming of the Lord, which our Holy Church makes mention of on the Sunday of Meatfare.

Holy New Martyr Philothei of Athens (+ 1589)

St. Philothei of Athens (Feast Day - February 19)

Verses

A scion of Athens is Philothei,
Who put on the cross as armor against the enemy.

+++

When Philothei from things earthly was translated,
She ascended with joy to heavenly mansions.

This bright star of compassion arose in the dark days of the Turkish occupation to shed God’s mercy upon the oppressed people of Athens and to guide many endangered souls onto the path of righteousness.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Synaxarion of Saint Agapetos, Bishop of Synaus

St. Agapetos of Synaus (Feast Day - February 18)

Verses

You loved the Master O Agapetos,
Who calls you to a place you love.

Saint Agapetos lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305), and came from Cappadocia, the son of Christian parents. When he was young in age, he went to a monastery there, in which there were around a thousand monks, who gathered various virtues, as a bee gathers from various flowers. There he stood as a tried laborer of the commandments of the Lord, and brought to naught his body with fasting and vigil and with the other means of self-control. For a period of eighty years he ate only bark and lupin pods and ashes instead of bread. He also was victorious over sleep, as much as it is possible for someone. He was serviceable and studious in his duties to the brethren of the monastery, and he referred to all the monks as master and lord. Thus he was made worthy to receive from God the grace to do miracles.

Saint Leo the Great Resource Page

St. Leo, Pope of Rome (Feast Day - February 18)

Verses

The soul of the divine Leo was released,
And demonic hordes he struck with fear.
On the eighteenth Leo released his soul.

About

Synaxarion of our Holy Father Leo, Pope of Rome

Saint Leo I, Pope of Rome


Friday, February 17, 2017

The Veneration of the Holy Theodores in Serres


The Old Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Theodores

"Among the many temples, [the Church of Saints Theodoroi] adorns, honors, and makes the city of Serres known to all, no less so than the other temples. It is a holy and sacred place to wonder and marvel at, built in honor of those saints whose name means 'Gift of God'."

- Theodoros Pediasimos (a man of letters and 14th century citizen of Serres)

The church of the gloriously martyred soldier saints, Saints Theodoroi, known also as the Old Cathedral, is located in the center of the old city of Serres. It is a large square basilica (internal dimensions 15.6 by 24 meters) is divided into two parts, the portico and the main body of the church, which is itself separated by two lines of columns into three naves. The large amount of early Christian masonry that was reused in the building of the church would indicate that it was built as early as the 6th century. The exquisite church has been renovated on a number of occasions. No information is available on the history of the monument until the 15th century. However, the manner in which the church was built, and its final form in particular, are the result of a number of bold, easily distinguished, major alterations made at different periods down the ages. The materials and methods used by the craftsman for each of these alterations have helped most of the reputable scholars who have researched the church's history to draw roughly the same fundamental conclusions as to its architecture and decoration.

Sources for the Veneration of Saint Theodore


5th-Century Sources

Pawstos Buzand, Epic Histories 4.10

Writing sometime in the 470s, the Armenian historian Pawstos Buzand attributes the death of the Arian emperor Valens (364-78) to Ss. Theodore and Sergius. The story is very similar to one also told of St. Mercurius, that he had killed the pagan emperor Julian (360-63).

Then King Valens gave an order for an expert to be sought and found who would be able to confront the Christian faith in writing. And he was told that there was a skilled sophist in a certain city. And so, the emperor sent his magistrianoi to him so that they might hasten to go and bring the man to him without delay, and they hurriedly fetched him.

The Passion of Saint Theodore the Recruit

St. Theodore the Tiro (Feast Day - February 17)

1. During their time Maximianus and Maximinus sent throughout all the territory of their empire an edict against all the followers of the true religion of Christ, that they could escape tortures and live by tasting food which had been offered in sacrifice, and that those who spoke against this were to be surrendered to the judges and subjected to many different punishments. At this time Theodore was conscripted for military service, and together with him many other recruits, and was assigned to a legion titled the legio Marmaritarum under the command of the praepositus Brincas. This legion was staying in the city of Amasea in the province of Hellespontus, where all were being compelled to offer sacrifice to the idols in accordance with the imperial edict.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Glorious Vision to Saint Akakios of the Holy New Martyr Romanos


In the Chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos, at the Cell of Saint Akakios in Kavsokalyva of Mount Athos, where the Venerable New Martyr Romanos (+ 1694) lived in asceticism, there is depicted on the north wall a striking fresco dated to 1759, from the workshop of Hieromonk Parthenios from Agrafon, whose source is the life of Saint Akakios of Kavsokalyva. It depicts the appearance of the Venerable New Martyr Romanos, who is celebrated by the Church on January 5th and February 16th, with lightning-white robes.

Holy Martyr Pamphilos of Caesarea and his Companions

St. Pamphilios and Those With Him (Feast Day - February 16)

Verses

To Pamphilos
You are beyond all, Pamphilos friend of the Word,
And you are conducted to your beheading with love.

To Valens, Paul and Seleucus
Paul Seleucus, and Seleucus Valens,
Seeing the beheading rejoicing is brought by the beheading.

To Porphyrios and Julian
The two divine Martyrs leap towards the fire,
The flame of divine longing increasing within for the two.

To Theodoulos
Servants of delusion crucify on the wood,
Theodoulos the servant of the Crucified One.

To Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel, Daniel
Called by the Prophets and dying as Martyrs,
Five Martyrs boast in their beheading.

On the sixteenth Pamphilos was beheaded by the edge of the sword.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Prodigal Anarchist


By Fr. Christodoulos Bithas

Lefteris had stopped accompanying his mother to church, because he felt bored. He could not comprehend what value everything he heard had, although he had been sent for some years to catechism. It was made into a revolution to stop, and instead he coached basketball on Sunday. He could not understand what value it had in the life of a young person to encourage a lifestyle that he himself never saw as an example in anyone. As a teenager he was looking for something to make him live authentically, he wanted for someone to understand him instead of judge him, to protect him instead of wag the finger at him, to give him love instead of fake words of devotion. He wanted to see equality instead of oppression, to believe in an innovative idea instead of conservative, that gave rest instead of oppression, that liberated instead of limited. Without realizing it, he had a conflict of standards with his parents.

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostle Onesimus of the Seventy

St. Onesimus the Apostle (Feast Day - February 15)

Verses

Onesimus laid out his legs to be broken,
Legs which bravely ran on roads to Paul.
On the fifteenth the legs of Onesimus were crushed.

Saint Onesimus was a servant of the Apostle Philemon,* and according to Theodoret of Cyrus he was from Colossae, to which the blessed Paul wrote an epistle. Because Onesimus stole money from the household of Philemon, as was disclosed in the epistle of Paul to Philemon, he fled and went to Rome, and there he met the Apostle Paul finding him in bonds. Being catechized by him in the faith of Christ, and baptized, he also became wondrous in virtue. Because Paul did not consider it right for Philemon to grieve due to the theft and flight of his servant Onesimus, for this reason he sent him back to his master Philemon, together with his introductory and surrendering epistle to Philemon.

Synaxarion of the Holy Martyr Maior of Gaza

St. Maior of Gaza (Feast Day - February 15)

Verses

Scourged throughout with exceeding afflictions,
David stated affirming the Martyr Maior.

Saint Maior lived during the reigns of Diocletian (284-305) and Maximian (286-305), and was a soldier under the Mauritanian regiment. While in the city of Gaza, he was accused to the ruler of being a Christian. Standing before the tribunal, he confessed to being a Christian, and for this he was continuously beaten for seven days with such vehemence, that thirty-six soldiers beat him one after another. Blood ran like a river from his body, so that it made the ground red. Bravely enduring such harsh punishment, the courageous contestant of Christ journeyed from the earthly military power to the heavenly military power, and delivered his soul into the hands of God, receiving from Him the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Anthimos of Chios Resource Page

St. Anthimos of Chios (Feast Day - February 15)

Saint Anthimos of Chios (+ 1960)

Spiritual Counsels of Saint Anthimos of Chios

A Prophecy of St. Nektarios of Aegina about St. Anthimos of Chios

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Prodigal Wife and the Faithful Husband (St. Paisios the Athonite)


 By St. Paisios the Athonite

A Greek-American doctor had once visited me. He was Orthodox, but didn’t have too much to do with religion. He didn’t even keep the fast on Fridays, nor did he go to church very often. He recently had an experience, and wanted to discuss it with someone. One evening, while he was praying in his apartment, the “heavens opened up”. He was flooded by light, and the ceiling disappeared, as did the other forty floors above his apartment. He remained in that flood of light for a very long time – he couldn’t even tell for how long!

The Church of Saint Nicholas of Ichthys in Psari, Corinth


The Holy New Martyr Nicholas was born around 1520 in Ichthys (or Psari), a village of Corinth. When Nicholas was twelve his parents John and Kali died from an unknown cause. As an orphan Nicholas joined some fellow villagers seeking a better life and went to Selybria of Eastern Thrace, near the city of Constantinople. There he married a Christian woman and bore children. His childhood poverty made him merciful towards the poor, whether they were Christians or Muslims. However, certain Muslims slandered him and accused him of ridiculing the Islamic faith, and this was reported to the ruler of Constantinople named Sinan, a relative of Suleiman the Magnificent. Brought before the ruler, Nicholas denied that he had ridiculed Islam, yet he still confessed his Orthodox Christian faith after being told to renounce it and embrace Islam or die. For this he was thrown in prison for four days without food or water, and on the fifth day the ruler had Nicholas bound throughout his body with chains. Then he was brought to a public place in Constantinople where a great fire was lit, and there he was slowly burned to death. This took place on Thursday, February 14, 1554.

A pious Christian recovered Saint Nicholas' sacred skull for a payment to the Turks, and he brought it to the Great Meteoron Monastery, where it is still kept today. Four years later, in 1558, Saint Damaskenos the Studite wrote his life and composed a service to the Holy Neomartyr. Unfortunately, however, this text and his memory became lost to history, until 1928 when a copy was discovered in the ruins of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Siamou, in Pindos, by Metropolitan Ezekiel of Thessaly (1874-1953). This Monastery had been one of the 420 monasteries in Greece destroyed by the Bavarian Protestants when Otto became King of Greece. News of this discovery was of particular interest to the residents of the small village of Psari in Corinth, where Saint Nicholas was born and raised, and they immediately claimed him as their patron.

In 1968 the residents of Psari built a church in honor of Saint Nicholas of Ichthys, although it was not consecrated until June 5, 1988 by Metropolitan Panteleimon of Corinth. On June 6, 1992 the skull of Saint Nicholas returned to his homeland in Psari from Great Meteoron Monastery, to the great joy of the faithful. A portion was left behind, while the rest of the skull was returned to Meteora. The interior of the church was decorated with iconography in 2006, among which depict the life story of Saint Nicholas. His memory is celebrated on February 14th and the Sunday after June 5th.

The Service of Saint Nicholas can be viewed here.


Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Being of like manner with the martyr athletes, and a champion of those in need, entreat the Master of all, to grant peace to the ecumene, and to our souls the great mercy.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
Having accomplished your martyrdom well in the stadium, you were made worthy of the bright lot of martyrdom, and you grant to the faithful heavenly grace. Wherefore your beautiful fatherland, is glad in you, Neomartyr Nicholas, do save us from all our needs, through your intercessions O Saint.













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