Monday, September 20, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Fifth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Fifth Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

In the previous sermon, beloved brethren, we saw that the Church, through the Holy Fathers, in order to preserve the truth that Christ is perfect God and perfect man, from heretical theologians who were influenced by philosophy and used terms like essence, nature, hypostasis and person philosophically, with heretical meanings, came to decisions by divine inspiration on these matters with the same terms they used, to which they gave an orthodox meaning.

It is the Church's belief that Christ is perfect God and perfect man, having two natures, divine and human, which are united in one person "inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably". When each nature acted in the person of the Word, it acted in communion with the other nature, without becoming confused, changed, divided, or separated. This is a great mystery.

The Testament of Saint John the Stranger (Ioannes o Xenos)

Saint John the Stranger (Ioannes o Xenos) was a hermit on the island of Crete who founder a number of monastic establishments there. He reposed in 1031 and is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on September 20. Below is his testament that has been handed down to us. The attached source link at the bottom provides more information on this text, the translation and on Saint John in general.
I, Ioannes the monk and the hermit, known as xenos, commanded.

1. Being a source of incorruption our God created man at first in incorruption; having seen him, He gave <him the possibility> and He settled <him> at the life-giving place. So, due to the deceit and the advice of the evil-minded serpent, the forefather having not observed the command, was condemned to death. And then, O brethren, there is no man who will live and will not face death. Thus, I too, the lowly monk and known as xenos, having been laid down on a bed by sickness and expecting the finality of death, look, how I have arranged and manifestly set out everything regarding me, and what holy God through his oikonomia (dispensation) revealed to me; and this is how matters regarding me stand. I was born of rich parents <coming> from a village called Siva; and having been conceived by them, I came out of the maternal womb, longing for the solitary life from a young age. Thereafter, from mountain to mountain and in desert places wandering, being maltreated and harassed by the icy cold, I spent considerable time following the command (of God) and being burnt up by the burning heat of the sun and the frost of the winter. And having dwelt and lived together with the wild beasts and animals, I came as far as the mountain of Lithines, which is called Raxos. And in that place, having remained a considerable number of days and having traversed all over the mountain and having found a dense and trackless forest, I found also at that same place a cave, in which when I entered it, I found two monuments, one on the north side and the other on the south. Having gazed at them, I came out of the cave thinking to myself, what are these? And as I walked for a little, a voice came down to me from above calling me by name and commanding me in these words: "Ioannes, Ioannes, Ioannes, these that you saw here, are two monuments of Eutychios and Eutychianos, and in this place you are destined to raise a sacred and holy naos (temple) in their name". And having heard these, I stayed at the place; and having taken a great deal of trouble and given myself with my whole soul, I began to remove from the ground the trees and undergrowth and to clean the aforesaid monuments; and having done these things after many days, I raised a sacred and holy naos of Saints Eutychios and Eutychianos.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Homily for the Sunday After the Elevation of the Honorable Cross (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos

(Delivered in the Refectory in 1985)

We have heard the word of the Lord again today, my brethren, in the Holy Gospel: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk. 8:34). This is the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. The day before yesterday we had the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. And that is why the Church today is talking about the Cross again. The Cross of the Lord, which must become our cross. For if we do not lift up our cross, if we do not partake of the Cross of Christ, what kind of Christians are we? Because a Christian is one who imitates Christ, hence they are a Christian. And he imitates Christ throughout his life, even His crucifixion. And he is crucified with Christ in order to be with Him and to walk "in the newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), as the divine Apostle Paul says.

Galatians 2:20 in Light of the Fathers of the "Philokalia"


"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

- Paul the Apostle 
(Galatians 2:20)

+ + +

74. He who yokes the practice of the virtues to spiritual knowledge is a skillful farmer, watering the fields of his soul from two pure springs. For the spring of spiritual knowledge raises the immature soul to the contemplation of higher realities; while the spring of ascetic practice mortifies our earthly members: ‘unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire’ (Col. 3:5). Once these are dead, the virtues come into flower and bear the fruits of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23). And then this prudent farmer, having ‘crucified the flesh together with the passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24), will say together with St Paul: ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live ... I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20). 

- Theodoros the Great Ascetic 
(A Century of Spiritual Texts)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Fourth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

   Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Fourth Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Last Sunday, beloved brethren, we saw how the Third Ecumenical Synod dealt with the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, how it condemned him and how it set terms for the faith in the God-man Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, after an agreement between Saint Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch with the so-called "Ekthesis of Reconciliation" in 433.

However, after the death of these two Patriarchs (Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch) their fanatical disciples raised the issue, in consideration of the fact that both of them had departed from their positions, which they had already supported, and it now created problems in the Church.

These are Eutyches, Dioscorus and other Antiochian theologians. Eutyches taught that the Lord Jesus Christ had two natures before the union, but he confessed one nature after the union. That is, he said that after the union of the two natures, human nature was absorbed by the divine nature. This problem continued, because there was still confusion between nature and person, so that they considered the one person is connected with one nature.

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