February 28, 2014

A Prayer For Those Who Dispute With Heretics

By Saint John Cassian the Roman

We pray to You, O Lord Jesus, to whom we have ever prayed, that You would give us words by opening our mouth to "the pulling down of strongholds, destroying arguments and every pretension that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto Your obedience":(1)  for he is indeed free, who has begun to be led captive by You. Do Thou then be present to this work of yours, and to those of Yours who are striving for You above the measure of their strength. Grant us to bruise the gaping mouths of this new serpent, and its neck that swells with deadly poison, O You who makes the feet of believers to tread unharmed on serpents and scorpions, and to go upon the asp and basilisk, to tread under foot the lion and the dragon. And grant that through the fearless boldness of steadfast innocence, the sucking child may play upon the hole of the asp, and the weaned child thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk.(2) Grant then to us also that we may thrust our hands unharmed into the den of this monstrous and most wicked basilisk; and if it has in any holes, i.e., in the human heart, a lurking or resting place, or has laid its eggs there, or left a trace of its slimy course, do Thou remove from them all the foul and deadly pollution of this most noxious serpent. Take away the uncleanness their blasphemy has brought on them, and purify with the fan of Your sacred cleansing(3) the souls that are plunged in stinking mud, so that the "dens of thieves" may become "houses of prayer":(4) and that in those which are now, as is written, the dwellings where hedgehogs and monsters, and satyrs, and all kinds of strange creatures dwell, there the gifts of Your Holy Spirit, namely the beauty of faith and holiness may shine forth. And as once You destroyed idolatry and cast out images, so make shrines of virtue out of the temples of devils, and let into the dens of serpents and scorpions the rays of shining light, and make out of the dens of error and shame the homes of beauty and splendor. So do Thou pour upon all whose eyes the darkness of heretical obstinacy has blinded, the light of Your compassion and truth, that they may at length with clear and unveiled sight behold the great and life-giving mystery of Your Incarnation, and so come to know You to have been born as true man of that sacred womb of a pure Virgin, and yet to acknowledge that You were always true God.(5)

1. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5
2. Isaiah 11:8
3. Malachi 3:2-3
4. Matthew 21:13
5. This prayer was written for those heretics who denied the Orthodox doctrine of Christ's Incarnation, so if praying about another heresy it can be inserted towards the end of the last line.

From On the Incarnation, Bk. 7, Ch. 1.

Holy New Martyr Kyranna as a Model for our Lives

St. Kyranna of Ossa (Feast Day - February 28)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Holy New Martyr Kyranna lived in the 18th century. She was born in the village of Avyssoka or Vyrsoka - in today's Ossa of Thessaloniki - from reverent parents. She was extremely beautiful, yet this was the reason for her martyrdom. This is because a girl who was beautiful in the years of the Turkish occupation was regarded by her own as a curse and misfortune. For the very beautiful girls were grabbed by the Turks and taken to their harem. Saint Kyranna was seen by a janissary, who was a collector of taxes in the village, and wanted to convert her to Islam and marry her. She declined, remaining constant and steadfast in her faith, with the result that she underwent terrible torture. Finally, after having been tortured in prison, they hung her, and in this way she surrendered her soul into the hands of her Bridegroom Christ, whom she loved with all her soul. The moment her soul "flew" to the heavens, her body, as well as the area of the prison, were illuminated with a most brilliant light. This light was seen by the imprisoned Christians, and they crossed themselves while glorifying God. This was also seen by some Muslims, however, and they were scared thinking that a fire broke out. The light retreated, but in its place remained a fine exquisite fragrance. The body of the Saint was buried by Christians outside of Thessaloniki, in the Cemetery of Saint Paraskevi. Her memory is celebrated in Ossa of Thessaloniki, in the beauteous sacred church erected in her honor in 1840, on January 8 instead of February 28, the day of her repose, obviously so that it does not coincide with Great Lent.

February 27, 2014

Catechetical Homily of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew For Holy and Great Lent 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

+ B A R T H O L O M E W

By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church:
Grace and Peace from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
And Prayers, Blessings and Forgiveness from us

“Behold, now is the favorable time,
now is the time of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6.2)

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Our Orthodox Church recommends that, during this period of Great Lent, we focus our attention toward sincere repentance, “the melting pot of sin,” according to St. John Chrysostom. Repentance is the first topic of our Lord Jesus Christ’s preaching and the very essence of the Christian teaching. It is the Church’s daily invitation to us all.

"Fasting Works Miracles"

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Fasting Works Miracles"

With this title the newspaper To Vima (02/21/2010) presented a study of the University of Crete conducted on 609 children between the ages of 5 and 15.5 years old from Thessaloniki, 12.1% of whom "completely fasted" according to the rules of the Church.

Muslim Economist of Noble Lineage Baptized Orthodox Christian in Montenegro

Dr. Mahmud Busatlija, a prominent economist in the capital of Serbia and of noble lineage, who was a Muslim, was baptized Orthodox Christian, according to Serbian sources, 500 years after his ancestors converted to Islam.

February 26, 2014

Saint Porphyrios of Gaza and the World of Late Antiquity

By Anastasios Philippides

On February 26th our Church celebrates the memory of Saint Porphyrios, Bishop of Gaza in Palestine. Saint Porphyrios came from Thessaloniki and lived between 350 and 420. His Life, among the most ancient lives of a saint after the cessation of persecution, was written by his disciple Deacon Mark and is one of the most eloquent hagiographical texts we have, as it is inspired by the vibrancy of the narrative in the first person, who was an eyewitness.

February 25, 2014

Saint Reginos the Hieromartyr and Wonderworking Patron of Skopelos

Holy Hieromartyr Reginos of Skopelos (Feast Day - February 25)

By Aristides G. Theodoropoulos

On the 25th of February the enchanting island of Skopelos brilliantly celebrates the all-sacred memory of the Holy Glorious Hieromartyr Reginos, the Bishop of Skopelos, who honors him as their patron, protector and vicar of this fertile island of the Northern Sporades, which is endowed with unparalleled natural beauty, but made modest by its hundreds of sacred foundations apportioned to monasteries, sketes, parish churches and numerous picturesque chapels and shrines.

Saint Tarasios and the Importance of Depicting the Martyrs in Churches

Saint Theophanes, in his Chronographia, leaves us the following account:

"In this year, 806, on the 25th of February,... Tarasios, the most holy Patriarch of Constantinople, died a glorious death. His remains were conveyed to the straits of the Black Sea on Wednesday of the first week of the Great Fast and buried in the monastery he had built (on the European side of the Bosporus)."

February 24, 2014

Announcement of Vatopaidi Monastery on Elder Joseph and His View on Abortion

February 22, 2014

The blessed Elder Joseph, a monk by his words and most especially by his example, taught us to endure with silence and humility every temptation, every libel and every slander against us. But when the criticism relates to our Orthodox Faith then we are to reply that we are neither heretics now nor by the grace of Christ will we be.

The Translation of the Relic of Saint Gabriel the Confessor Takes Place in Georgia (photos + videos)

On Saturday, 22 February 2014, according to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Apostolic Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Georgia, the translation of the holy relic of our venerable Father Gabriel the Confessor took place, which was moved from the yard of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Savior in the female Monastery of Samtravo to Svetitskhoveli Church.

February 23, 2014

A Patristic Explanation of the Symbolic Imagery of the Coming Judgement

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead are closely connected with the coming judgement, the so-called future tribunal. All men will stand before the dread judgement seat of Christ.

In the Creed we confess that Christ will come with glory “to judge the living and the dead.”

This conviction constitutes the central teaching of the Church, as we shall verify in what follows. In all the assemblies for worship and in the Divine Liturgy there are words about our presence before the throne of God. The priest prays:

“For a Christian end of our life, painless, peaceful and unashamed, and for a good answer before the dread judgement seat of Christ, let us pray.”

In what follows we shall have an opportunity to emphasize the fact that although we use images of a tribunal, the judgement will have more the character of a revelation and manifestation of the spiritual state of the person. Moreover, all the images used have a symbolic character. Christ and the saints, as we shall see, use such images to make people understand pictorially that dreadful day when they will see the reality. Consequently, unless we do away with the images, we must enter into their essence and inner content.

Saint Gorgonia, Sister of Saint Gregory the Theologian

Saint Gorgonia (Feast Day - February 23)


I honor your silent end of life Gorgonia,
Gregory celebrates her with words.

Saint Gorgonia was the youngest sister of Saint Gregory the Theologian, and a member of the most-pious family of Saints Gregory the Elder and Nonna. She was an equal in virtue and holiness with her other siblings. Her husband was named Alypius and they had five children together, two sons who dedicated themselves to God, and three daughters - Alypiani, Eugenia and Nonna. Due to a severe illness she fell asleep in the Lord at the young age of 38.

Saint Polycarp as a Model for our Lives

Hieromartyr Polycarp of Smyrna (Feast Day - February 23)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, was a disciple of the Holy Apostles, in particular Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist, which is why he is called an Apostolic Father of the Church. He was, according to the sacred hymnographer, "a sharer in the ways and successor to the throne" of the Holy Apostles. In other words, he was a successor of the Apostles in the episcopal office, and shared in their way of life. He had the same way of life as the Holy Apostles and this is the most important.

February 22, 2014

Study is Intoxicating, Knowledge is Beautiful, Faith is Infinite

By Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavriotiki

Study is intoxicating. Our world is made with unimaginable beauty and wisdom. These two things are worth discovering by someone as much as they can. You just have to do it with human humility, not with the audacity of a pseudo-god. It must be approached within its limits.

Human knowledge, understanding and wisdom is not infinite nor complete. And nature itself shows us our limits.

Triodion: the Most Forbidden Book

By Fr. Dionysios Tampakis

What Triodion, what Diodion!*

The Triodion is also a spiritual Diodion, the only one which you don't pay, but rather pays you with spiritual money and spiritual fruit.

It is also a "forbidden" book, since various delinquent personalities can be found within it.

February 21, 2014

Atheism and Its Underlying Cause

By Monk Moses the Athonite

It is needless to stress the fact that the denial of the existence of God is everyone's right. God gave us unlimited freedom, so that even if we wanted to we could deny Him.

I will not attempt to prove at all the existence of God. I believe His existence cannot be proved by reason, but He is only experienced in the depth of the heart. Therefore, anyone is free to profess whatever they want. However, we do not need at all for an atheist to mock a believer and of course the opposite.

February 20, 2014

The Search For Contemporary Flagbearing Elders

By Monk Moses the Athonite

We have written before how many of our contemporary Christians are seeking contemporary flagbearing Elders.

In certain times it is a fact that there is a real need for solving serious problem. In other times there is simply curiosity and the search for discerning Elders is for information regarding the signs of the times, impending wars and prophetic revelations. For one to seek a modest and truly humble Elder, with knowledge and love, wisdom and prayer, grace and blessing, is wise and blessed. The faithful have serious needs, but also sometimes frivolous illnesses. This is why fear of God and great attention are needed from both sides.

February 19, 2014

Saint Porphyrios on Zealotry and the Ecclesiastical Calendar

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva said the following about the Calendar issue:

"If you are going to live in the world, follow the calendar that belongs to the Church, that you may not bring upheaval to the people, unless you desire to live in Mount Athos."

Holy Communion and the Transfer of Germs

There are Christians who are afraid to receive Holy Communion for fear of catching germs. If this were true, no priest would be alive, because at the end of the Divine Liturgy they consume the remaining content from the Holy Chalice, from which hundreds of faithful with various illnesses also commune. Yet, nothing has ever happened to any priest. The Body and Blood of the Lord is a "consuming fire".

Saint Philothei the Athenian as a Model for our Lives

Venerable Martyr Philothei the Athenian (Feast Day - February 19)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The four hundred years of slavery to the Turks were no doubt very difficult for the Greeks/Romans. Neither their property nor their own selves were defined. They could not learn letters out in the open and the darkness of ignorance ruled. The effort of the Church in this regard is known with the "Secret Schools", where a monk or priest was a teacher and "increased distant hope". Still known are the struggles of Saint Kosmas Aitolos in establishing schools, so the slaves could learn to read and write that they may be able to study Holy Scripture. Therefore, this long period was tragic for the Romans, but, we could also say, glorious from the point of view that it gave an opportunity for the Greek Orthodox soul to show all its greatness and unconquerable morale. It accepted slaps and kicks, but it remained standing and unsubdued and showed great figures worthy of admiration. Among these a prominent position belongs to the lady of Athens, the venerable Philothei. She was a true aristocrat in the true sense of the word aristocat, which means one who rules terrifically. One who holds no money or estates, but noble love, which they give or rather is given away without calculation of thought, ulterior motives or the anticipation of reward.

February 18, 2014

Elder Paisios: "Compassion Harms the Unrepentant"

- Elder, I remember how one time you scolded me a lot.

- If necessary, I will scold you again, that we may go together to Paradise. Now I will take draconian measures!

February 17, 2014

Father Symeon de la Jara: On a Righteous Path from Peru to Mount Athos

When Miguel Angel de la Jara Higgingson was seven, his mother had a vision. She sensed that her son would some day leave her for a "far away place, like an island, there where people of solitude lived who pray all the time and rarely step out into the world". Even she, however, could probably not have imagined just how far from his native Peru, both physically and spiritually, his life's search would take him.

February 16, 2014

The Holy Prodigal and the Compassionate Father

By Monk Moses the Athonite

The Scandalous Respect for Freedom

In the Parable of the Prodigal, God the Father amazingly respects human freedom and will. The father of the parable didn't care about his authority, about what others would say about him, that he would lose his support - his child who assisted him. He is saddened by the departure but did not want to prevent it, though he could have. Sometimes the great freedom of God scandalizes. We would like Him to have more limits on us. We do not know how to appreciate and enjoy freedom. The love of the father is very noble. He wants near him children who love him and not slaves without freedom, frightened and terrified. He allows him to abuse his freedom, a very dangerous game. The fruit of a carob tree, you know, is sweet in the beginning and bitter in the end, just like sin. Without God man hungers, thirsts and is alone. An insatiable hunger and thirst, terrible loneliness. The chase for pleasure brought unbearable suffering. But the great love of his father accompanied him always. It made him not forget and be disappointed. He was completely assured of the love of his father and this saved him. What saved him also was his restless journey and his non-deferment. The salvific thought immediately was put to action.

February 15, 2014

Spiritual Counsels of Saint Anthimos of Chios

The following spiritual counsels were addressed from Saint Anthimos of Chios (+ February 15, 1960) to his spiritual children, the nuns of the Sacred Monastery of Panagia Voithia in Chios, which he founded.

Holy Apostle Onesimus as a Model for our Lives

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

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Apostle Onesimus was originally a servant of the Apostle Philemon, who was a man of love and treated his servants with kindness. It turned out, however, that he was a useless servant, because he abused the kindness of his master, stealing from him and fleeing secretly to Colossae. In Rome, where he fled, he was catechized by the Apostle Paul in the "faith of Christ", he was baptized and he became "wonderful in virtue". From a useless servant he became an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and he became truly useful and truly free.

February 14, 2014

Orthodoxy and Modern Life: An Interview With Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia

Below is an interview by Prof. Nikos Kokosalakis with Fr. Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou, who is now Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, but who was then living as a monk and teaching science. The interview was published in Religione e Societa on March 15, 1996. More about Metropolitan Nicholas and his extensive scientific background can be read here.

Orthodox Spirituality

N.K. I am grateful to you, Father Nikolaos, that you kindly accepted to talk with me on the theme "Orthodoxy and Modern Life". Your vocation as a monk, living and serving a spiritual ministry at this outpost of Mount Athos, here in the middle of Athens, and your training in the natural sciences makes an excellent combination for a view of Orthodoxy from a deep personal experience and a scientific perspective. Your views, therefore, will be of great interest to the readers of the journal Religioni e Societa.

Let's start with the topic of the spiritual dimension of Orthodoxy. More specifically, could you elaborate on Orthodox spirituality as a way of life, as an experience and its compatibility with contemporary everyday life and social reality?

February 13, 2014

The Philanthropic Work of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 2013

February 13, 2014

The Romanian Orthodox Church spent some 17.7 million euro on charity activities in 2013, when it helped 23,000 children, 15,000 elders, 13,000 victims of human trafficking, as well as victims of family abuse, calamities, former inmates and the unemployed.

Saints Priscilla and Aquila as Models for our Lives

Sts. Aquila and Priscilla (Feast Day - February 13)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Apostles Aquila and Priscilla were a blessed couple. They came from Pontus and lived in Corinth. Both were tentmakers by profession and had the great blessing in life to learn from the Apostle Paul, when he went to Corinth. They gave him hospitality in their home and they worked together, since they were fellow tentmakers. As is known, the Apostle to the Gentiles in order to cover his daily expenditures and so as not to be a burden to anyone, occupied himself in tentmaking. Saints Aquila and Priscilla were associated with him and they became trusted friends and colleagues. He was for them an unerring teacher and enlightened spiritual father. That they had no children of the flesh surely made it easier for their travels and it gave them the opportunity to follow him on his various journeys. They ministered to him and at the same time he nurtured them by the life-uttered wisdom of his divinely inspired teachings. In some of his epistles, such as 1 Corinthians and 2 Timothy, he sends them greetings. In his epistle to the Romans he praises them and thanks them personally, but also on behalf of the local Churches, for their dedication and unending love. "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the Churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them" (Rom. 16:3-4).

February 12, 2014

Saint Meletios of Lardos, Founder of Ypseni Monastery (+ mid-late 19th cent.)

February 12

Commemoration of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Meletios of Lardos, builder of the sacred and revered Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos of Ypseni


You raised up a Monastery to the Virgin Mary.
You dwelled alone glorious among Angels.
On the twelfth Meletios is honored splendidly.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Meletios, was born in the late 18th century in the village of Lardos in Rhodes and he was named Emmanuel at Holy Baptism. His pious parents Nicholas and Stamatia raised him according to the apostolic dictum "in the education and admonition of the Lord", and they implanted in his soul love towards God and the traditions of our pious Nation. From infancy he appeared to be a "chosen vessel" since he refused to suckle his mothers milk on the fasting days of Wednesday and Friday. Later, when he grew up, he distributed goods from the family warehouse to the poor without anything being reduced, resulting in the amazement of his parents, who had previously rebuked him.

February 11, 2014

Book Review: "Jesus Fallen?"

By John Sanidopoulos

If there was one book on Christology I wish I had as a young seminarian, it would have been the recently published book titled Jesus Fallen? The Human Nature of Christ Examined From An Eastern Orthodox Perspective by Emmanuel Hatzidakis, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This book is a powerful and detailed critique of one of the most awful and annoying heresies circulating among Orthodox theologians today, especially in the West, that says Jesus Christ, the Son of God, assumed a corruptible, passionate and mortal nature.

February 10, 2014

"I'm Gonna Tell God Everything"

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Christ had great communication with children; He loved them, hugged them and encouraged His disciples to let them come near Him, teaching His listeners to become like children in order to be saved. He also worked many miracles for them, among other things. He saw in children the purity of their hearts, their immaculate sensitivity, the sincerity of their words, their search for truth, the manifestation of their love.

Saint Haralambos as a Model for our Lives

Holy Hieromartyr Haralambos of Magnesia (Feast Day - February 10)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Haralambos came from Magnesia in Asia Minor. Born in the late first century he was martyred at the age of 113. When persecution broke out against the Christians during the reign of Septimius Severus, certain spiritual children of Saint Haralambos tried to persuade him to escape, so as not to be caught. He, of course, refused, because it is impossible for a good shepherd to abandon his flock in time of danger and because he was ready at every moment to give his confession and be martyred. He was arrested and tortured inhumanly, but faced the horrific torture with admirable bravery, after boldly confessing his faith. Several soldiers, among those ordered to torture the elder priest, seeing him endure inhumane torture with such bravery, but also with incredible tranquility, as well as the wonders that came about due to his prayers, believed in Christ and confessed Him as their Lord and God. The prefect was alarmed by the change in the group and ordered that he be set free. Later, the same Severus, unable to endure the boldness and the bravery of the elder, ordered for his beheading.

February 9, 2014

The Synthesis of the Triodion

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

The entrance of the Triodion is an invitation to look a little better at ourselves. Not to enclose ourselves in our individuality, but to see clearly the roots of our individualism, entering into a process of education that connects interiority and sociality; an education that comes from the text called Triodion.

February 8, 2014

Technological Aesthetics and the Therapy of the Triodion

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

Technological Assistance to Illness

In the press we have seen references to a book by British psychotherapist Susie Orbach, titled Awakening Beauty. It is a book written to help mothers communicate properly with their young daughters on issues related to body image, self-confidence and self-esteem.

Saint Theodore the General as a Model for our Lives

Holy Great Martyr Theodore the Stratilatis (Feast Day - February 8)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Theodore the General lived during the reign of Licinius (late 3rd and early 4th century). He was from Euchaita in Galatia and lived in Heraclea near the Black Sea. He was an officer in the Roman army and was distinguished for his bravery. He had the gift of speech, which he used in the best way, since it was a tool that helped a lot in sowing the word of God. With the fiery missionary zeal that distinguished him he preached the word of God with boldness and courage and attracted many who were well-intentioned to the faith of Christ.

February 7, 2014

The Church and the Olympic Games

Below is an article written by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Chairman of the Committee of the Church of Greece for the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games, in June 2002 in anticipation of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004. With the Olympic Games in Russia in 2014, and the Church again in a certain spotlight, it reveals why the Orthodox Church takes a keen interest and pastoral stance in the Olympic Games rather than taking a critical stance against it. For further reading on this subject by His Eminence, read the book The Human Body: Ascesis and Exercise.

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos 
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens are a top world event and our country is preparing feverishly because the whole world will be watching Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games.

Saint Luke of Mount Steirion as a Model for our Lives

Hosios Loukas (Feast Day - February 7)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The venerable Luke was born in 896 A.D. in Aegina, but raised in Phocis where he moved to with his family. He was generous and industrious and helped his parents in agricultural work. After his studies at school he helped his father in agricultural work. While grazing the animals of his father he studied various spiritual books, especially Holy Scripture, and would pray. After his father exited this temporary life, he was the comfort and support of his mother, caring for her in an exemplary way until the end of her earthly life. After her repose, he actualized the desire of his soul, which was to live in imitation of the angels. After first distributing his riches to the poor, he then erected a hut in a deserted place near the sea and lived in asceticism and prayer.

Saint Parthenios of Lampsakos as a Model for our Lives

St. Parthenios of Lampsakos (Feast Day - February 7)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Parthenios lived during the reign of Constantine the Great. He came from a small town in Bithynia and was the son of Deacon Christopher. He did not learn much of letters, but he was a most reverent and virtuous man. From his father he learned love towards God and man, and for this reason he was a lover of God, a lover of man and merciful. He occupied himself with fishing, which he performed with admiration, and the fish he caught he distributed to the poor or he sold them and distributed the money. Further, he would visit the grieving and the sick and comforted them with inspired words and his philanthropic works. This ministry of his and his whole way of life was honored by Bishop Philip of Melitopolis, who ordained him a Priest. Later Metropolitan Achilles of Cyzicus ordained him Bishop of Lampsakos.

February 6, 2014

The Olympic Flame

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Olympic Games essentially begin with the lighting of the Olympic flame that takes place in ancient Olympia and is carried by athletes to the country where it will take place.... I wanted briefly to make reference to the meaning and history of the lighting of the Olympic flame.

Saints Barsanuphios and John as Models for our Lives

Sts. Barsanuphios and John (Feast Day - February 6)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The venerable Barsanuphios and John lived in the sixth century. They were great ascetics, but also knowledgeable of the Orthodox faith and theology. The venerable Barsanuphios lived for many years as a recluse in a small cell near the Monastery of the venerable Seridos, where Abba Dorotheos lived in asceticism. There he reaped the sweet fruits of hesychasm and with his spiritual gifts, as well as the wisdom he acquired from above by his union with God, he helped many people by answering their questions and queries. At a nearby distance his disciple, the venerable John, exercised hesychasm, and he too responded to questions dealing with the spiritual life. He also was made worthy of many gifts of the Holy Spirit and particularly the gift of foresight and prophecy, which is why he is called the Prophet.

Saint Photios the Great as a Model for our Lives

St. Photios the Great (Feast Day - February 6)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

He was a great personality of the ninth century, who came from a prominent yet pious family of Constantinople. According to the sacred Synaxarion, his father was distinguished for his correct faith, and his mother too was a lover of God and a lover of virtue. The Saint himself, in his 145th epistle, praises his parents and says that they both died as confessors. Having studied Greek literature, rhetoric and medicine, he offered much to the Church and to education. He became an important teacher, as well as a superior physician who was able to manufacture medicine that was very beneficial. "He was not only a superior teacher, but also an important listener, and considered worthy of gratitude one who put forward an opinion better than his. At the same time he offered his medical expertise to various patients, preparing himself and the medicines very effectively. This is why his contemporaries compared him with Galen and Hippocrates."

February 5, 2014

February 2014 Progress Report for Mystagogy

Dear Readers:

I have a few new and exciting updates I wanted to briefly share. For the past few years I have been doing an annual update a few weeks after Easter, but a few months ago I announced that I will try to update my readers more often throughout the year on the progress I am making in developing this ministry. Here are a few of the things I am working on that I am ready to share at this time:

1. Honey and Hemlock

As many know, I have started a new weblog titled Honey and Hemlock. I created this site as a supplement to Mystagogy to deal specifically with issues relating to Philosophy, Science, Psychology, Medicine, Politics, Church & State, Culture, Society, Movies, Television, Music, Art, Books and Literature. These are all issues I have great interest in and have much to share on, and over the past year I have given little time to here at Mystagogy due to the more focused path of Orthodox subject matter I want to share. Mystagogy is about maturing and growing as an Orthodox Christian, and the subjects covered in Honey and Hemlock, though important, can be a little distracting if they are mixed in with this material. Having a website to supplement Mystagogy for these subjects will allow me to focus elsewhere on those issues in a way I desire to do so, and I believe in a way my readers will find more interesting and focused.

Currently I am in the process of deleting from Mystagogy all the posts that deal with the subjects I will be covering at Honey and Hemlock and will repost them there. Some posts I will keep on both sites, while others that are no longer relevant I will delete altogether. By doing this I am hoping it will make for a more user-friendly experience by those looking for specific material out of the over 6600 posts I have here at Mystagogy. Of course, any new material on these subjects will no longer be posted on Mystagogy, but will be exclusive to Honey and Hemlock. The transfer is a slow process cause I am editing everything as well in the transfer, but I think it will be rewarding. Visit daily as I will try to update the site daily.

Here are some important links for Honey and Hemlock both to visit the site and be updated daily through Facebook and Twitter:

In this first month since I began Honey and Hemlock, here are the posts I have made. Most of these are posts I made in 2009 that I transferred from Mystagogy, while others are new. 

What This Website Is About

My Favorite Movies and Albums of 2013

Intelligent Evolution and Alfred Russell Wallace

The Proposed "Statue of Responsibility"

Making Comedy of the Cross of Christ

On Positive Thinking

On Faith and Reason - Selections From Saint John Chrysostom

Capitalism’s Ideology

Anthony the Great, the Philosopher of the Desert

National Healthcare and the Church-State Relations in Byzantium

The Nature of True Philosophy According to St. John of Damascus

Sigmund Freud's Little Intimate Secrets

The Pop-Culture Wars, Music, and Character Formation (1 of 2)

The Pop-Culture Wars, Music, and Character Formation (2 of 2)

Atheist Admits There Is No Evolutionary Explanation for Consciousness

Fifty Philosophers and Rhetoricians Who Converted to Christianity

The Power of Realistic Thinking

Andrei Tarkovsky's "Andrei Rublev" (1966)

Dostoevsky's Spiritual Therapy

Capitalism and the Spirit of the Church Fathers

"The Century of the Self" (4-part Documentary)

2. Advertising

For a few years now I have been asked about advertising on Mystagogy. Last week I decided to allow advertising as a way to support this ministry. Though I mainly rely on the donations of my readers to support this ministry, unfortunately it is not enough, so these donations need to be supplemented for now with advertising if I am at least going to continue what I am doing, let alone grow. Along with the donations, I believe it will help in the maintenance and growth of this ministry. I can't make things happen without financial assistance, so I encourage all of my readers not only to financially assist (see below) in helping maintain and grow this ministry, but also by visiting and supporting my advertisers.

Currently I have Google advertising on my site. With these ads I get paid a small fraction whenever these ads are visited, so I encourage you to do so. It does not amount to much at the end of every month, but every little bit helps. I hope to remove this when I get enough financial support that I don't need it.

I also have as of now five banner ads below each post that I encourage all of my readers to visit and see what they are about. By you supporting them, you are supporting this ministry. These ads are also Orthodox ministries that I would encourage you to support or at least visit to see what they have to offer.

If anyone wishes to advertise on mystagogy, please email me at mystagogy@aol.com.

3. Another Website

Back in May 2013 I announced Mystagogy will be under the umbrella of a much larger entity that will consist of this ministry. As I am in the process of cleaning up old posts here at Mystagogy and developing new posts both here and at Honey and Hemlock, I also want to announce another website that I hope to launch this month that is devoted specifically to issues of the Science of Origins in light of Orthodox thinking.

I understand this is a controversial topic, yet my goal is not to be controversial but enlightening. For years I have had material on this subject that has not been made available and this website will allow me to share it. This is a subject I personally approach with an open yet critical mind and various view points will be offered, with all their strengths and weaknesses.It will not be about me proposing my views, but its purpose will be to guide both myself and my readers into the most proper method of viewing this subject in an Orthodox manner. More will be said on this shortly, but I am announcing it now to be aware of its launch within a few weeks.


There are many other things I am working on that I am not ready to announce now, but will hopefully get to in my next progress report, which will be in late April or early May in the form of my annual report. Next week begins the Triodion which will lead us into Great Lent, then Holy Week, then Easter/Pascha. I pray this period be a great blessing for all, and I hope what I offer here will add to that blessing.

Please help financially support this ministry that it will continue to be a blessing in thousands of peoples lives on a daily basis. Thank you in advance.

Click on the DONATE button to make a one-time donation (a Paypal account is not needed to make a one-time donation):

Click on the SUBSCRIBE button, after choosing an amount from the dropbox, to make regular monthly donations:

Payment Options

To send in your donation, please do so to the following address:

John Sanidopoulos
PO Box 320284
West Roxbury, MA 02132

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos

February 4, 2014

The Humble Piety of a Greek-American NBA Player

7'0 center Kostas Koufos currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. He grew up in Canton, Ohio and attended Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. In the first video below he speaks about how he tries to attend the Divine Liturgy every Sunday, no matter where he is, and in the next videos are a documentary produced in Greece about his beginnings, as well as his experiences as an altar boy and his relationship with the Church and his spiritual father.

Political Leaders and Hierarchs Frescoed in Montenegro Cathedral

The Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica, Montenegro was consecrated last year after construction began in 1993.

Saint Isidore of Pelusium as a Model for our Lives

St. Isidore of Pelusium (Feast Day - February 4)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The venerable Isidore of Pelusium was born in Egypt around 360-370 A.D. He was a scion of noble and pious parents and he was a brilliant student. Before he became a monk he was a Catechist and Teacher of the Church of Alexandria. He settled in a Monastery near Pelusium, an area of Egypt east of the Nile, and for this reason he is known as "Pelousiotis". Because of his erudition, and especially his virtue, he acquired great prestige and fame. He is regarded as one of the best interpreters of the Divine Scriptures. After being ordained a Priest he was promoted to Abbot. His entire personality offered much to the Church, but also his discourses and writings.

February 3, 2014

A Gifted Scientist Who Became an Orthodox Bishop

Biographical Summary

Metropolitan Nicholas (Hatzinikolaou) of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki was born on April 13, 1954 in Thessaloniki.

He studied Physics at the University of Thessaloniki where he received his Bachelors in 1976, and after serving in the army he continued his studies at Harvard and M.I.T. where he received his Masters of Arts and Masters in Science, and then in a combined program of Harvard and M.I.T. (HST = Health-Sciences-Technology) he received his Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering in 1986. Their objective was to study the Bio-fluid dynamics of the circulatory system (heart and blood vessels) using Fluid Mechanics and Applied Mathematics. More specifically, he dealt with the invention, the design and study of a noninvasive method of diagnosing valve disease by the acoustic analysis method.

Holy Prophetess Anna as a Model for our Lives

The Holy Prophetess Anna (Feast day - February 3 and August 28)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Prophetess Anna was an important figure of the Old Testament. She was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher and she was made worthy of the highest honor to see the Son and Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, incarnate. The Prophets of the Old Testament saw God the Word without flesh, since all the appearances of God in the Old Testament were of the fleshless Word, and they prophesied His incarnation and awaited Him.

Saint Symeon the God-Receiver as a Model for our Lives

St. Symeon the God-Receiver (Feast Day - February 3)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Symeon is called God-Receiver because he greeted Christ in the Temple and accepted Him into his arms. Forty days after the Nativity of Christ the Panagia and Joseph brought Him to the Temple, in accordance with the Law, and when the God-Receiver Symeon received Him in his arms he said to Him: "Now let Your servant depart in peace, Master, according to Your word. For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all people. A light of revelation to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel."