April 30, 2011

Renewal Sunday: The Eighth Day After Pascha

By Sergei V. Bulgakov

The eighth day after Pascha as the ending of the celebration of Bright Week was a special celebration since ancient times, as if it replaced the very same Day of Pascha and was called Antipascha, and means "instead of Pascha".

From this day the cycle of Sundays and weeks of the entire year begins. On this day the commemoration of the resurrection of Christ is updated for the first time. This Sunday of the Antipascha was called the New Sunday, i.e. the first day of renewal or simply renewal [1]. The more proper name is the real day, the eighth day after Pascha, that on this eighth day the Lord Himself willed the renewal of the joy of His resurrection with a new appearance to the Holy Apostles [2].

St. Gregory the Theologian says in his Homily on this Sunday: "With the ancient and good purpose, it is to honor the day of renewal as established law, or better to say, to honor the new benefactions with the day of renewal. But was not the day of renewal also the first Resurrection Day, followed by the blessed and radiant night? Why you give this name to the present day? That was the day of salvation, but this day is the commemoration of salvation. That day differentiates the burial and the resurrection in itself, but this day is purely of the new birth. It is the first day among those following it and eighth among those coming before it."

Commemorating this day of "renewal" the Holy Church inspires in us the necessity for our beneficial spiritual renewal. "The real renewal", the same Holy Father teaches, "we now celebrate, is the going from death to life. And so we put off ourselves the old man and renewed ourselves; that we too might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). ... The old has passed away, behold, the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). ... Let us bridle all lusts from which death was born, let us become accustomed to the feeling of obedience, let us begin to hate any evil food from prohibited fruit and let us remember the former only and henceforth first be wary of the same. Christian be made new from the old and in this way celebrate the renewal of the soul. ... Change yourself with a good change, and in this case do not think highly of yourself, but say with David: 'This is a change being wrought by the right hand of the Most High' (Ps. 76:11), from whom is everything successful in people. God the Word wants that you not stand in the place alone, but that you ever move, moving smoothly, be completely newly created and if you sin turn yourself away from the sin, and if you are successful, you will have strained the powers even more."

1. According to the explanation of the Synaxarion there was an ancient custom to periodically do a solemn commemoration for some major events. So that time in the annual cycle does not pass by this very day on which the known event occurred, it annually did a commemoration in order that the memory of the great events was not forgotten. On this basis the Hebrews celebrated the Passover in Gilgal for the first time, renewing their memory of the passage through the Red Sea. On this same basis they celebrated the foundation, and with special solemnity, the renewal of the witness of the Tabernacle. According to this they commemorated the reign of David and other events of which there is no need to list. But so that the incomparably greatest of all events in the life of every one and exceeding every idea is the resurrection of the Lord that we not only commemorate annually, but also continually through every week. So the first renewal of this event in memory of the real Resurrection Day, which it would be possible to call the first renewal of this event by its own meaning both the eighth and the first: the eighth because it is the eighth from Pascha, as the first because it is the beginning of other Sunday commemorations. And this day can still be named the eighth because it will be placed in the image of that eternal day in the future age, which will also be the first and undoubtedly one not divided by night (Vladimirskiia Eparchialniia Vedomosti [Vladimir Diocesan News] 1898, 7).

2. So that the renewal of the appearance of the resurrected Savior was especially for the sake of the Holy Apostle Thomas, who at this appearance also saw the salvatory wounds of the body of the Resurrected One, that from here and of our other more common usage of the name of Antipascha or by the Sunday of St. Thomas, or Thomian. In the ancient church Antipascha Sunday had yet another more special name of "White Sunday", which even now remains in the Roman Catholic Church. It is called so because the newly baptized, who received the sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation on the eve of Holy Pascha and wore the paschal white vestments for seven days in the image of the infancy and renewal in Christ, on Thomas Sunday, as the last day established for the commemoration after the reception of Baptism, the chrism was washed off from the body and they solemnly wore those clothes in which they were vested after the holy font in the temple.

Our simple people called Thomas Sunday the Sunday of the "wire", or of the "wires", obviously, because these celebratory days come to an end and is led by the Bright Sunday of the Resurrection of Christ. Thomas Sunday is also called "Krasnoiu gorkoiu [with bitter beauty]" from the ancient Pagan games, which were played in mountainous places in Spring, before other places were free from snow and were covered by the first beautiful grass, which in the majority concluded in marriages (see details in Rukovodstvo dlia Seljskikh Pastirej [Manual for Village Pastors] 1892, 15; Tserkovnyi Vestnik [Church Messenger] 1896, 8).


The Kollyvades Movement and the Spiritual Regeneration of Orthodoxy

By Christos Yannaras

In the late eighteenth century, a new controversy in the monastic community of the Holy Mountain turned unexpectedly into a movement of spiritual regeneration. Certain important ecclesiastics came together to defend the theological profundities of Orthodox worship, and soon found themselves attempting to reawaken the subject Greek nation's spiritual consciousness.

This was the Kollyvades movement, a complex issue with contradictions that provoked widely differing reactions. Were conservative zealots, servile to the Turk, spreading obscurantism? Or was a strong neo-patristic revival preparing a final flowering of a broader Greek culture? Was it a movement against Westernization and the alienation of Hellenism from its spiritual roots? Or did it exemplify Western pietism's penetration of Greek Orthodoxy?

"Kollyvades" began as a pejorative term for Athonite monks who disapproved of commemorating the departed on a Sunday with "kollyva" - boiled wheat. The commemorations were always read after the Divine Liturgy on Saturday in the Athonite community's monasteries and sketes. The Church's most ancient custom was to celebrate Sunday as a paschal day of resurrection, which excluded the funerary memorial prayers for the departed.

In 1754 monks of the Skete of St. Anne transferred the commemorations from Saturday to Sunday for a practical reason: they wanted to visit the Saturday market in Karyes. Their ignorance about the sense and significance of worship proved their theological superficiality, provoking opposition from simple monks who clearly possessed an alert ecclesiastical consciousness. A painful controversy ensued and arguments were exchanged by both sides. The Kollyvades insisted on a paschal character of the Lord's Day, refusing to "bend the knee" on Sunday, and insisting on frequent Holy Communion.

The Church's canons forbid kneeling on the Lord's Day. They stipulate that "we offer the Eucharist on the Lord's Day in a standing position," because we are no longer slaves, subject to death, but conformed to the Lord's resurrection. Insisting on "continuous Holy Communion" reflects a true understanding of the Church; only the Eucharist realizes and manifests the Church when the faithful receive Communion "from the same bread and cup".

The Kollyvades' theses convey a vigilant theological awareness of the Church's living priorities, which for that time was unusual. The opponent's arguments were generally scholastic and lacking in theological content. Yet they prevailed, their proponents imposing their views on the Patriarchate of Constantinople and procuring the condemnation of the Kollyvades by the Holy Synod. The leaders were exiled, excommunicated and deposed. Two Kollyvades monks of Mount Athos were even assassinated.

Most of the movement's leaders had to abandon the Holy Mountain, many going to the Aegean islands: Chios, Ikaria, Paros, Hydra, etc. The most important Kollyvades center was in Skiathos, at the Monastery of the Annunciation founded by Hieromonk Niphon in exile. Niphon's personality and the monastery's traditions strongly influenced two local authors: Papadiamantis and Moraitidis.

At the start, the Kollyvades' leader was Neophytos Kausokalyvites (1713-1784). Having studied in Constantinople, Patmos and Ioannina, he became a monk in the Skete of Kausokalyvia on Mount Athos. He taught at the Athonias School, serving two terms as director. His influential treatise On Frequent Holy Communion of the Immaculate Mysteries (1766) intensified the controversy. Exiled from Mount Athos, he continued teaching in Chios, Andrionople, Brasov in Transylvania, and Bucharest, where he died.

Hieromonk Athanasios Parios (1721-1813) succeeded Neophytos as the movement's leader. Born in Kostos on Paros, he studied in Smyrna, and then under Eugenios Voulgaris and Neophytos Kausokalyvites at the Athonias School. He taught in Thessalonica, broadening his studies with lessons in philosophy, rhetoric and physics from Nikephoros Theotokis in Corfu. After a brief stay in Mesolonghi, he returned to the Holy Mountain as director of the Athonias School, vigorously defending the Kollyvades. His opponents accused him of heresy and on June 9, 1776, he was condemned, defrocked and excommunicated by Sophronios II, Patriarch of Constantinople, and his Synod. He took refuge in Thessalonica, and ran the city's grammar school. He defended himself before the Holy Synod of Constantinople during Gabriel IV's patriarchate in 1781, when his excommunication was lifted and he was restored to the priesthood. He stayed in Thessalonica until 1786, collaborating with Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain in publishing Saint Gregory Palamas' works, and then went to Chios, where he directed the grammar school until he died....

The clash between the Kollyvades and the Enlightenment's proponents at the turn of the nineteenth century was perhaps neo-Hellenism's last chance to preserve its traditional identity. Of course, Korais' opinions prevailed, not those of the Kollyvades. Wider Hellenism had begun its long agony, which after successive amputations continues painfully and inexorably to the present day.

Read also: "The Philokalia": A Challenge To Western Culture

From Orthodoxy and the West, pp. 115-117.

Paschal Art

Ivan Vladimirov (Russia, 1869 - 1947)
Pierre Outin (France, 1840-1899)
Alexander Α. Buchkuriya (Russia, 1870 - 1942)
Miloradovitch Sergey (1851 -1943)
Paul Ryzhenko (1970) Pascha in Paris
Vladimir Makovsky Ye (1846 - 1920) Pascha in 1914
Neringa Morgunova "Pascha" 2005
Pascha - Kudrin, Victor 1999, Russia in 1925


Pascha In New York With Archbishop Demetrios 2011

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America celebrates the Anastasis service at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Flushing, NY.

Novak Djokovic Honored By the Serbian Orthodox Church

Christopher Mayers
April 30, 2011

Reigning world number two tennis pro Novak Djokovic stood victorious in the field of religion as well, as he was awarded the Order of Saint Sava of the first degree on Thursday. It is the highest decoration awarded by the Serbian Orthodox Church for Djokovic’s dedication and generosity to the religion. The honor was presented to the Serbian by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus.

At the suggestion of His Grace Bishop of Raska-Prizren Teodosija, Djokovic was appreciated for his devotion to the Church, exhibited by his unrelenting help for the people of Serbia and the sanctuaries of the Holy Church. His welfare efforts, especially for people in Kosovo and Metohija, were recognised by the Holy Church.

“This award is certainly the most important I’ve ever got,” said Djokovic after receiving his honor. “As an athlete and a religious person, it is hard for me to find appropriate words to describe my feelings of gratitude for the confidence I gain from the Holy Synod. I can only say that it can be earned only with hard work and self-belief, belief in your loved ones and in God.”

Djokovic’s family was not the only attendant at the ceremony but a number of well reputed dignitaries were also present to appreciate the young tennis star for his religious services. The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Bishops Irinej of Backa and Forije of Dalmatia were among the few attending the award ceremony.

The 23-year-old Serbian is already at the peak of his career and has climbed up to the number two spot in men’s ranking by toppling over the Swiss maestro, Roger Federer, this year. Djokovic’s performances with the racquet had been exemplary in the current ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) season. He has already bagged four championship titles, including the Grand Slam Down Under, this year. Receiving the Order of Saint Sava award clearly depicts the strong character of the man and it denotes that he is not only a champion on tennis courts, but a true devotee to religion and people welfare as well.

Djokovic is currently playing the Serbia Open at Belgrade, Serbia and has reached the semi-final of the event. He will be facing his good friend and fellow countryman, Janko Tipsarevic for a place in his fifth ATP final of the year.

Feast of Panagia Dobra in Beroia on Bright Friday

On Bright Friday, the feast of Zoodochos Pege, the Holy Monastery of Panagia Dobra in Beroia celebrated its feast day. The morning service was officiated by Metropolitan Paul.

Boy Dies In Athens From Pascha Fireworks

Seven-year-old suffered serious head injuries.

April 29, 2011

The seven-year-old boy who was seriously injured by a flare on Easter Saturday has died in an Athens hospital, doctors said.

The boy, who was not named, suffered serious head injuries when the flare exploded in the courtyard* of the Agios Georgios church in Drosia, near Halkida on Evia.

He was being treated at Agia Sofia Hospital, where he died on Friday morning.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly firing the marine flare.

It is traditional in Greece for worshippers to set off fireworks and bangers as part of celebrations to mark the resurrection of Christ.

* The boy was named Christos and the firework was thrown by a 26 year old into the courtyard of the church, which hit the boy in the eye.

April 30, 311: Emperor Galerius Issues Edict of Toleration

By Diane Severance, Ph.D. and Dan Graves, MSL

Sometimes when a person nears death and stares into the face of eternity, he or she becomes more religious or makes moral changes, perhaps hoping to influence his or her future beyond the grave. That seems to have been the case with Roman Emperor Galerius when he issued an Edict of Toleration on this day, April 30, 311.

Galerius was the son of a Greek shepherd who became a Roman soldier. He rose in power and authority to become a junior ruler with Diocletian. When Emperor Diocletian began his great persecution of Christians in 303, Galerius instigated the action, convincing Diocletian that Christians were dangerous enemies of the empire.

Galerius himself issued another edict in 304 requiring everyone in the empire to sacrifice to the gods of the empire on pain of death or forced labor. Persecutors imprisoned churchmen, destroyed precious Bible manuscripts, and executed hundreds of Christians.

When Diocletian abdicated, Galerius became senior emperor in 305. He continued his cruel persecution, which was so widespread and intense that it became known as "the great persecution". However, Christianity simply would not go away. Even Galerius recognized the impossibility of snuffing out the illegal religion.

Then he became ill. A Christian writer named Lactantius said that Galerius' body rotted and was eaten by maggots while he writhed in agony. Apparently Galerius' conscience connected his persecution of Christians with his present misery. He seems to have seen his illness as a judgment from the Christian God. At any rate, his edict mentioned only Christians.

The edict began by justifying his murder. "Amongst our other measures for the advantage of the Empire, we have hitherto endeavored to bring all things into conformity with the ancient laws and public order of the Romans. We have been especially anxious that even the Christians, who have abandoned the religion of their ancestors, should return to reason."

Noting that some Christians had betrayed their faith out of fear while others endured torture, Galerius decided illogically that "we, with our wonted clemency, have judged it wise to extend a pardon even to these men and permit them once more to become Christians and reestablish their places of meeting..."

Galerius added that "...it should be the duty of the Christians, in view of our clemency [mercy], to pray to their god for our welfare, for that of the Empire, and for their own, so that the Empire may remain intact in all its parts, and that they themselves may live safely in their habitations."

Prayer seems to be the point of the edict. Galerius wanted Christian prayers. Did he hope for a miracle? If so, he was disappointed. He died a week after issuing the edict.

His successor, Emperor Maximinus, tried to counteract the edict but did not succeed to any great extent in his short rule. The Great Persecution of Christians had ended.


The Edict of Toleration

Among other arrangements which we are always accustomed to make for the prosperity and welfare of the republic, we had desired formerly to bring all things into harmony with the ancient laws and public order of the Romans, and to provide that even the Christians who had left the religion of their fathers should come back to reason ; since, indeed, the Christians themselves, for some reason, had followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity, which perchance their own ancestors had first established; but at their own will and pleasure, they would thus make laws unto themselves which they should observe and would collect various peoples in diverse places in congregations. Finally when our law had been promulgated to the effect that they should conform to the institutes of antiquity, many were subdued by the fear of danger, many even suffered death. And yet since most of them persevered in their determination, and we saw that they neither paid the reverence and awe due to the gods nor worshipped the God of the Christians, in view of our most mild clemency and the constant habit by which we are accustomed to grant indulgence to all, we thought that we ought to grant our most prompt indulgence also to these, so that they may again be Christians and may hold their conventicles, provided they do nothing contrary to good order. But we shall tell the magistrates in another letter what they ought to do.

Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the republic may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes.

This edict is published at Nicomedia on the day before the Kalends of May, in our eighth consulship and the second of Maximinus.

From Lactantius, De Mort. Pers. ch. 34, 35.

Increased Visitors To Hagia Sophia Demands Restrictions

April 28, 2011

Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia museum has announced plans to introduce restrictions on the number of visitors to the site each day in response to a recent influx of visitors to the former Byzantine church-turned-mosque, according to Today’s Zaman.

The number of people visiting Hagia Sophia averages 10,000 daily. However, recently there has been a general increase in visitors to the site, with numbers exceeding 17,000 on some days.

The museum, which is expected to attract more than 3.5 million visitors by the end of year, will have new restrictions imposed on the number of people visiting the site at any one time. The measures are being introduced to avoid damage to the marble and mosaics on the walls of the historic building. Overcrowding tends to causes humidity in the structure, which contributes to the erosion of the mosaics. These restrictions will in particular be geared towards large groups and school field trips.

Haluk Dursun, president of the Hagia Sophia museum, said that agreements have been signed with the Education Ministry to impose some restrictions on school field trips, particularly those arriving during peak times. This is will be a first step toward managing the number of visitors to the site. In another measure, an appointment system will be introduced for large groups.

Nikos Kourkoulis: Cancer and the Holy Mountain

Nikos Kourkoulis is among the most well-known and beloved musicians in Greece. On 6 December 2006 he spoke on Greek television station ANT1 of the following incident which occurred to him in 2002.

In 2002 Nikos was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After several tests, this diagnosis was confirmed. His mother told him not to worry, that all would turn out well for him.

During the period of Great Lent he finished the program at the center where he was appearing, and he presented all his friends and colleagues with gifts and gave his final wishes, as his cancer was rapidly progressing.

His friends and his uncle urged him to go to Mount Athos. This sounded like a good idea to him, as he had desired to travel to the Holy Mountain for years. The day before he went he decided to have another test, but did not get the results as he knew they would be the same. He had also decided that upon his return he would travel to America to speak with a physician who was a pancreatic specialist.

He departed then from Ouranoupolis on a small boat and landed in Daphne on Mount Athos. It was Holy Week and the boat was full of visitors and pilgrims. Despite this, there was one empty chair in which his friends urged him to sit. Next to him sat a gentleman of about 50 years of age who turned to Nikos and asked him: "Are you Kourkoulis? You know, I don't really know you because I am from America, but my daughter listens to you and likes your music. Can we take a picture together so that I can give it to her, as it would make her happy?" The picture was taken and then they began a conversation. Nikos mentioned how he desired to go to America, not as a tourist, but in search of a physician who could possibly help him with his health problems. He then mentioned the physicians name, and the gentleman from America was astonished.

What astonished the man was that he was the right hand man of the doctor Nikos had mentioned, and moreover the doctor in question was sitting right next to him. Having recovered from the surprise he talked with the doctor and exchanged cards for subsequent communication.

They arrived at the Skete of Saint Anna for the vigil of Great Friday. At one point an elder of the Skete named Fr. Silas approached Nikos and said: "Come with me, now that the large crowd has left, that you can venerate the belt of Saint Anna." He didn't know Fr. Silas, but he followed him anyway. When they reached the holy belt Nikos knelt and prayed. After kneeling for about one or two minutes he began to feel a great pressure on him that drove him to the floor. It made him faint and he was out for about twenty minutes. When he recovered he began to cry for what he felt. After about an hour of weeping he went to a room where he rested the entire next day.

After Pascha he returned to the city and visited the doctor where another surprise awaited him. The doctor told him that in the new tests they had taken, no trace of cancer could be seen. There was not even an indication that he ever had cancer.

It should be noted that during the entire period after he was diagnosed with cancer, he never took a drug or went through any chemotherapy to aid in his recovery.

Hear his testimony in the video below (in Greek):

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos

April 29, 2011

Panagia Tripiti of Aigio

Among the most beautiful and original religious monuments in Greece is the historic shrine of the "Life-Giving Spring" (Zoodochos Pege) known as "Panagia Tripiti" in Aigio. It is located on the beach of Aigio, built on a steep cliff 30 meters above the sea in a cave ("tripa" in Greek means "hole", in reference to the cave).

Anyone who first visits the shrine is impressed by the beauty of the landscape: high trunk cypresses and shady pines provide a unique and evocative grandeur. A scale of 150 steps connects the Holy Shrine to the public road. There is also a second route from Kyparissona. Once the visitor comes closer to the church, one notices a small cave of 3 meters depth on the cliff with a width of 2 meters and a height of 2 meters. The opening is built with stones and has a small door and window. According to tradition, this was the monastic cell of the Captain/Navigator who found the icon. But if the admiration of the pilgrim from the beauty of the surroundings is great, the more impressed and stunned they will be when entering the church. The marble front of the temple is engraved with the message: "With the Fear of God and Love Draw Near", to remind the pilgrims of the sacredness of the place and the obligation to approach the miraculous icon of the Life-Giving Spring with fear of God, faith and love in their hearts.

In the narthex there is holy water in an artistic marble fountain with a cross shape. Out of the mouths of three carved angels holy water continuously runs into a marble basin. The fountain is carved with the well known inscription (which in Greek can be read the same backward and forward, even in the reflection of the water: "ΝΙΨΟΝ ΑΝΟΝΗΜΑΤΑ ΜΗ ΜΟΝΑ ΝΟΨΙΝ") "Wash Not Only Your Face, But Your Sins", that is, wash yourself clean of all your sins thoroughly with repentance first and not just your face superficially. Then the pilgrim enters the main part of the church, the nave, and the soul opens to the evocative set decoration. Right in the cave is the icon of the Virgin Mary with her sweet face with eyes both lively and full of sympathy that captivate the pilgrim, and with her left hand holding the child Jesus, who blesses with his right hand and holds a scroll in his left.

According to pious tradition - which in the Orthodox Church is credible - in the middle of the sixteenth century, ie around 1550, a navigator of the Corinthian Gulf distinctly saw a light at nighttime indicating how close he was to the shore. This gave him the courage and hope to enlist all his strength to get to the shimmering light. He approached and saw with great surprise that it was the front of an icon of the Virgin Mary which was surrounded by light.

The grace-filled icon of the Virgin Mary was hidden in this rocky cave, unknown till then. This is how the icon of Panagia Tripiti was discovered. The navigator, moved with reverence, knelt and venerated the icon. The next day he told the city authorities of Aigio. Clergy, people, and rulers came to venerate the icon and offer up a Doxology.

The founder of the icon became the first hermit and a servant of the Virgin Mary. He then helped to begin the task of building the church. Initially it was decided to be east of the area where the holy icon was discovered, because the original place was rocky. On the evening of the first day that work began on the building, the rock where the icon had been found quaked and was reshaped for a small church. So people felt that the Panagia "built her house", and the magnificent church of today was built at this location. The main cave in front of the church in which it was built has a depth of 11 meters, width of 7 meters and height of 4 meters. To make the altar area where the holy icon was found, the sanctuary faces southeast and not east according to Orthodox tradition. Over time, the first hermitage evolved to a splendid monastery. The church took its present form in the 19th century. The monumental, renaissance style, exterior marble staircase, which connects the coastal road to the church, was built in 1870 by project engineer Angelo Korizi.

By Royal Decree of 8 May 1933 the feast of Panagia Tripiti was established as an official religious holiday of Aigio. On Bright Friday there was to be a solemn procession of the holy icon. Finally, with the No. 10/16-5-1970 regulation of the Holy Synod of Greece, it was recognized as a "Panhellenic Sacred Shrine" and characterized a Public Entity.

With the proclamation of Panagia Tripiti as a Panhellenic Sacred Shrine, it formalized the devotion of many devout Christians who flocked there for pilgrimage. The many magnificent wonders of the Virgin Mary over the years reveal this sacred place to be a great spiritual center of Panhellenism.

It is very moving to see - on Bright Friday - thousands of Christians from all over Greece - of all ages - to climb the long staircase (150 steps), many on their knees, barefoot, and with tears in their eyes and with gratitude in their hearts as an "offering" to the Virgin, who listened and accepted their plea and released them from any need or illness.

Many are the miracles of the Virgin which have become known through testimonies, letters of the faithful, and publications in the daily press. A faithful replica of the holy icon was produced in the year 1991 and is available to those who desire.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos

Panagia Kefalariotissas of Argos

The Church of Panagia Kefalariotissas (Life-Giving Spring) is located in the village of Kefalari in Argos. According to tradition it was built after 1634, which is about the time the icon of the Panagia was discovered in the cave. It is located just above the source of the Erasinos River, which springs from the bowels of the mountain Chaon where on the steep slope is built the church and next to the entrance are two outlets of a large cave.

Unfortunately, this ancient and historical temple was destroyed on May 18, 1918 after a tremendous explosion of ammunition stored in military depots located near the Cathedral. From this terrible explosion the temple was smoking heap of rubble and only the Holy Altar and the grace of the Panagia were left. The present church was rebuilt and opened in 1928 in place of the destroyed temple by the locals and especially at the expense of the Panargeiakos Association "Danaos" which is located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The feast of Panagia Kefalariotissas is celebrated on Bright Friday in honor of the Life-Giving Spring.

Read more here.

Saint Basil of Ostrog (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

St. Basil of Ostrog (Feast Day - April 29)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Basil was born in Popova, a village in Hercegovina, of simple and God-fearing parents. From his youth, he was filled with love for the Church of God, and when he reached maturity he entered the Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Trebinje and there received the monastic tonsure.

As a monk, he quickly became renowned because of his genuine and rare ascetical life. Saint Basil took upon himself mortification upon mortification, each one heavier and more difficult than the last. Later, against his will, he was elected and consecrated bishop of Zahumlje and Skenderia.

As a hierarch, he first lived in the Monastery Tvrdosh and from there, as a good shepherd, strengthened his flock in the Orthodox Faith, protecting them from the cruelty of the Turks and the cunning ways of the Latins. When Basil was exceedingly pressed by his enemies, and when Tvrdosh was destroyed by the Turks, he moved to Ostrog, where he lived an austere ascetical life, protecting his flock by his ceaseless and fervent prayer.(*)

He died peacefully in the Lord in the sixteenth century, leaving behind his incorruptible relics; incorruptible and miracle-working to the present day. The miracles at the grave of St. Basil are without number. Christians and Muslims alike come before his relics and find healing of their most grave illnesses and afflictions. A great pilgrimage of people occurs there annually on the Feast of Pentecost.

(*) A new church was built upon the ruins of the old Tvrdosh Monastery in our day by Nikola Runjevac from the village of Poljica near Trebinje. A wonderful and glorious monumental church (Zaduzbina) before God and before His people.


Saint Basil, one chosen by God,
And of every affliction, wondrous healer,
With the power of your Christ, Whom you greatly loved,
The gravest of the ill, you were able to heal,
Even now, for anyone who honors you, you are able [to do]
And who firmly believe in the Living God.
O glory of the Serbian people, do not cease to help,
For the sinful, do not cease to pray.
In heavenly glory, you are a saint of God
And saints are men with a full healthy spirit,
In you [Basil] we see a true man,
Free from sin and overly filled with healing,
In whom the fire of the Holy Spirit burns,
In whom the love of the resurrected Christ stands.
To the All-powerful God and to you, we are grateful,
Because through you, God pours out abundant mercy,
Through His saint, glorious and of angelic face -
Basil the Serbian, God's chosen one!

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
From your youth you gave yourself entirely to the Lord, remaining in prayer, labor and fasting, O God-bearing Father. Because you were an example of virtues and good works to your flock, seeing your good work, God established you as a pastor and good hierarch of His Church. And after your repose, He kept your body incorrupt, O Holy Basil. Therefore, with boldness pray to Christ God to save our souls.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Even as a youth, you served the Lord, O Wise one, belaboring your body with prayer and vigil. Because you were shown to be a precious vessel of the Holy Spirit, He established you as a pastor of His Church which you tended well. And as such, you departed to the Lord whom you loved. We pray to you to remember us who keep your memory with faith, that all may shout unto you: Rejoice, O most honorable Basil.

April 28, 2011

The Inner Existential Celebration of Christ's Resurrection

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Christ's Resurrection should not be celebrated as a historical or social event, but as existential, which means that it should be a participation in the grace of the Resurrection. The fasting which precedes the feast during the whole of Great Lent, the ascetic struggle, aims at the best participation in the mystery of the Resurrection. In order to be successful, however, this requires, as all the Fathers teach, purification of the senses of both body and soul. St. John of Damascus sings: "Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with the ineffable light of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him saying clearly, 'Rejoice!', as we sing the triumphant hymns!" Thus purification is a necessary condition for vision of God and communion with God. St. Gregory the Theologian says: "Therefore one must be purified, then one must converse in purity."

The purpose of the spiritual life is for one to be united with the Risen Christ, to see Him in one's heart. Christ is risen in our heart, mortifying the passionate thoughts which are present there under the influence of the demons and overcoming the impassioned representations and preoccupations of sin, just as He overcame the seals of the tomb (St. Maximus the Confessor). Therefore it is not a question of an outward symbolic celebration, but of an inner and existential one. In this light St. Gregory the Theologian recommends that we should not celebrate in a festive and worldly manner, but in a godly and heavenly manner.

Participation in the mystery of the Resurrection is an experience of deification. He who has been initiated into the ineffable power of the Resurrection has realized from experience what Christ's purpose was in creating the world (St. Maximus the Confessor). In reality, man was created in order to attain deification, and the world to share in the sanctification through man. Then he who is initiated into this ineffable power of the mystery of the Resurrection attains deification and fulfills the purpose of his existence. Thus he acquires greater knowledge.

The Apostle Paul commends this experience of life, and therefore he writes that we have been buried through holy Baptism with Christ into His death, "that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). This rebirth is essential, because otherwise man will die spiritually, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the flesh and you will live" (Rom. 8:13).

Serbian Church Mulls Making Patriarch Pavle A Saint

Although many Serbs want to see their former Patriarch canonized as soon possible, the Serbian Orthodox Church says the complex process of declaring people saints must be followed carefully.

Bojana Barlovac
April 28, 2011
Balkan Insight

As the Catholic Church in Rome prepares to beatify the late Pope, John Paul II, on May 1, Serbia's powerful Orthodox Church is readying to turn its own late head, Patriarch Pavle, into a saint.

But nothing is being rushed. "The Church must be very careful when it comes to canonization, so the whole process of choosing and proposing the candidate takes time," a Church source told Balkan Insight.

The first step is to see whether a cult exists around the candidate, the source added.

If there is,the relevant bishops inform the Church's Council with a request to consider the proposal for the person to be declared a saint, the source explained.

Preconditions for being turned into a saint include: a justified reputation for having lived a life of sanctity; a legacy of memories of a trustworthy, godly life; that he was a witness to the faith.

"The entire life of the person who is proposed for sainthood should be checked, as he will be set as an example for believers to look up to," the Church source continued.

Patriarch Pavle died on November 15, 2009. His death united Serbia for a moment, as most Serbs revered him. Pavle spent 19 years at the helm of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church, the state and the Serbian people faced huge challenges at the time but Pavle emerged from the era with a high reputation.

He was known for his personal humility and modesty. Many also remember him for a statement he made in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-5 war: “Budimo ljudi iako smo Srbi”. [“It's more important to be a man than a Serb."]

If the proposal to canonise the Patriarch goes ahead, an icon of the saint must be made. The saint is then proclaimed at a solemn liturgy at which the icon is blessed as well.

After the canonization, the Church informs its brother Orthodox churches of the news in a letter, asking them to add the saint to their own Church calendars.

Panagia Kamariotissa In Samothraki

In the village of Kamariotissa in Samothraki (Samothrace), at the port of the island in the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, is found the icon of Panagia Kamariotissa. It is honored and celebrated annually on the Thursday of Bright Week.

The icon was discovered some time during the days of Iconoclasm on the island on the Thursday of Bright Week that year. It is estimated to have been found in the first or second decade of the ninth century.

One morning some fishermen were gathered in the cove in the northwest of the island where there is the current port, and as they engaged in arranging the nets they saw on the horizon a bright light without seeing anything floating in the sea.

As time passed the light became more intense, and with their growing curiosity and surprise, as they could not explain what the light was they were seeing, it gradually approached them.

It finally occurred to the fisherman to take their boats out to solve the mystery of the light. In one boat there were two men and in the other a man rowed to the light by himself, which was about a half mile away. They followed each other at a short distance. When they reached approximately a hundred fathoms from land they stopped rowing awaiting for the light to approach them.

And this is what happened. The illuminated object came to them and stopped in between the two boats. As they looked closely they saw a sealed canister. The boat with two fishermen took the canister, with one fisherman holding it while the other led them to shore. The other boat followed, full of suspense.

They reached shore, tied their boats, and gathered around the canister curious what treasure it contained. Indeed they found a priceless treasure, when they saw that it contained an icon of the Theotokos holding the child Jesus in her arms. It bore the name "Panagia Kamariotissa".

Great awe and joy seized the fishermen. They glorified the Mother of God and the All-Good God. After venerating the icon they brought it in the middle of the night to their poor homes.

The three boatmen revealed to everyone the circumstance of the discovery, and everyone considered it a miracle. They even related how when their boats stopped in the middle of the sea, it was because their hands became paralyzed and they could not row anymore. The names of the three fishermen, according to tradition, are Paul and his younger brother Raxi, the latter of the two being the one who carried the canister to shore; the third was named Lambros.

That afternoon during lunch they discussed where to house the icon. Instead of it being kept in one of their homes, they decided instead to build a small church forty steps above the area where they found it, since there were ruins of an old church there already. They named it Panagia Kamariotissa and its celebration was done annually on the Thursday of Bright Week. Since then all the people of the island began celebrating "the feast of Kamariotissa".

These fishermen together with the help of others on the island, despite their daily occupations, made it a point to always keep an oil lamp burning before this miraculous icon. In turn many miracles over the centuries have occurred for the inhabitants of the island. The Theotokos has truly become the protectress of the island.

ΑΠΟΛΥΤΙΚΙΟΝ Ήχος πλ. α΄. Τον Συνάναρχον Λόγον
Σεβασμίαν εικόνα της Θεομήτορος, την εν θαλάσση οφθείσαν, την επισκέπτιν ημών, προσκυνούμεν ευλαβώς και ασπαζόμεθα˙ ότι ηυδόκησεν ελθείν, απαλλάξαι των δεινών και χάριτας δωρηθήναι˙ της Σαμοθράκης το κλέος, και των πιστών το αγαλλίαμα.

Holy Week and Pascha In Colombia

In an atmosphere of Christian brotherly love and solidarity Pascha was celebrated in the small community of Orthodox Christians in the city of Cucuta in Colombia. The young priest of the church, Fr. Timothy Torres, led the Holy Week and the Resurrection services in the small humble Orthodox church. And on Pascha Sunday there were celebrations with the elderly who found a warm hug and hospitality in a small nursing home supported by the Orthodox community.

In this community is proof that acts of love and strength are produced by those who have faith in God, even amidst extreme poverty, social problems, and the weather. It is significant that recently the area was affected by torrential rains and extreme weather events, further complicating the lives of ordinary people.