Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 9: $2680)

April 30, 2014

Saint Porphyrios and a Prelude to our Resurrection

By Kostas Nousis, theologian

The Lord entered "through closed doors". In the April issue of the journal Peiraiki Ekklesia we have the testimony of the close disciple of the new Saint of the Church Porphyrios, Monk Akakios from Kavsokalyva on Mount Athos. Elder Porphyrios, who was bedridden for many years and near death confessed to him with an incomprehensible Grace in humble boldness that he could leave through the wall of his Hut, of Saint George, at 80 points wide [1.1111111111111 inches), and go to whatever distant place he wanted. And he ties this in with the promise of Christ Himself to His disciples throughout time (Jn. 14:12).

April 29, 2014

Saint Kerkyra as a Model for our Lives

St. Kerkyra (Feast Day - April 29)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Kerkyra was the daughter of the pagan King of Kerkyra named Kerkyllinos. She was benevolent and thus it was well-pleasing to God that she come to know the true faith, and through Holy Baptism become a member of the Church. At a point in her life she came to know the Apostles Jason and Sosipater. These two Apostles were in Kerkyra preaching the Gospel. They were arrested by the pagan king Kerkyllinos who interrogated them, tortured them hard and then sent them to jail. Saint Kerkyra experienced admiration and was literally moved by the bravery, courage and boldness of the Saints, by the fortitude and patience they showed in their martyrdom and especially by their bright faces, which at the time of their defense shined "like the face of an angel".

The Great Visitor (Elder Amphilochios Makris)

Many times Christ comes and knocks on your door and you have Him sit in the living room of your soul, and you, preoccupied with your chores, forget about the Great Visitor.

April 28, 2014

Living in the Light of the Resurrection of Christ

By Metropolitan Ignatios of Arta

The risen man, he who believes in the Resurrection of Christ, lives with the hope of the Resurrection, is not afraid of death, does not give way to the power of evil and sin, is not frustrated by the many hurdles, failures and challenges of life, does not consider the many and devious methods of the devil. He believes, hopes and struggles. He is guided by the truth of the Risen One and is illumined by the light of the Resurrection. He is sanctified, redeemed and deified with the sanctifying Grace of the Holy Mysteries of the Church.

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva: "Where You Despair, There God Helps"

Where you despair, there God helps.

Difficulties, temptations and despair...know my child that when the evil one cannot defeat us internally, then he makes these external attacks with various events, allowed by God, in order to frighten us.

April 27, 2014

The Empirical Theology of the Church is the Mystery of the Touch of Thomas

Beloved brethren, Christ is Risen!

The feast of the Resurrection of Christ, Pascha, is the central feast of the entire ecclesiastical year and the last of the Triodion and Great Lent, but also the beginning of another period that concludes with the great feast of Pentecost. This feast we celebrate today as well as throughout the entire period of the Pentecostarion, and every Sunday which is dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ.

April 25, 2014

The Panagia, the Life-Giving Spring

The Life-Giving Spring (Feast Day - Friday of Bright Week)

By A.K.

The feast of the Life-Giving Spring that we celebrate on the Friday of Renewal Week is a feast of our Panagia. The following is written in the Synaxarion of the day: "On the Friday of Renewal Week we celebrate the dedication of the church of our Most Holy Lady and Mother of God of the Life-Bearing Spring; we even remember the supernatural miracles that took place in this church of the Mother of God."

Saint Mark the Evangelist as a Model for our Lives

St. Mark the Evangelist (Feast Day - April 25 or Third Day of Pascha)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Mark the Evangelist was named John ("the name Mark was a Roman surname, which was then added to the primary name John"). In the house of his mother, where the first Christians gathered together to worship God, he met the Apostle Peter who, as it seems, was his teacher and spiritual father, which is why he calls him "my son" (1 Pet. 5:13). This relationship is shown by the fact that Mark the Evangelist in his Gospel preserved the message of the Apostle Peter, of which he is called an interpreter. "When the Apostle Peter preached his teachings in Rome he invited admiration, and there the faithful wanted to have written those things they heard, which is why they begged Mark who was with him to write it for them" (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite).

April 24, 2014

The Risen Christ: Logic on Trial (Photios Kontoglou)

By Photios Kontoglou

The faith of a Christian is tested by the Resurrection of Christ like gold in a furnace. Out of the entire Gospel, the Resurrection of Christ is the most unbelievable thing, totally inadmissible by our logic and a true cause of its suffering. Because it is something totally unbelievable, for this reason it requires all of our faith to believe in it. We people often say we have faith, but we only have it for those things that are believable to our minds. But then faith is not needed, since logic is enough. Faith is required for the unbelievable.

Fatal Easter Traditions

April 22, 2014

One man was killed and another seriously injured from gunshot during a village festival in Crete to mark Easter Sunday.

The victim, named as 25-year-old Yiorgos Gyparakis, was fatally shot on Sunday afternoon in Myriokefala, outside Rethymno, where villagers had assembled to fire off live rounds in the air, in a tradition known as balothies.

Why 30,000 Serbs converted to Catholicism in Croatia Since 1995

Around 30,000 Serbs on Croatian territory were converted to Catholicism, since the end of the war until today, said Milojko Budimir from the Association of Refugee Associations of Serbs from Croatia, reported Blic.

April 23, 2014

"Lift Up Your Gates": A Powerful Paschal Custom

One of the most moving and powerful moments of the Paschal Midnight Vigil is a custom done in many areas of Greece and few places elsewhere following the singing of "Christ is Risen". Traditionally the Gospel reading of the Resurrection prior to the singing of "Christ is Risen", as well as the initial singing of "Christ is Risen", is done outside the church. The symbolism behind this is that outside the church from Great Friday to Pascha, Hades is represented, for it was in Hades that the victory of Christ over death was first proclaimed. 

The Procession of the Icon of St. George With Horses

The Revival of a Custom in Lefkakia Argolida

Evangelos Bougioti
April 23, 2014

Saint George the Trophy-Bearer as a Model for our Lives

St. George the Great Martyr (Feast Day - April 23)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Every spring, together with the "feast of feasts and festival of festivals", the bright-bearing Resurrection which is a spiritual spring, "the spring of Grace", Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate the memory of a great martyr of our Church, Saint George the Trophy-Bearer (April 23 or the second day of Pascha if this date falls before). "Behold, the spring of Grace has risen, the Resurrection of Christ has shined upon all, and George the Martyr shines with it, on this all-celebratory and light-bearing day."

April 22, 2014

Dialogue Between an Elder and an Atheist: A Compelling Case for Christianity

One morning, the Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos was in a conversation with 2-3 visitors at his home. One of them was an ideological atheist and a communist. Suddenly, someone from outside came rushing in, and informed them that the city of Athens had been flooded with photographs of Mao Tse Tung, with the inscription “Glory to the great Mao”. It was the day that the Chinese dictator had died.

Testimony of a Miracle of Saint Raphael for the Kaltsas Family

In the video below is a testimony of a miracle done by Saint Raphael that was delivered by George and Maria Kaltsas from Giannitsa, having to do with the birth of their 2 1/2 year old son Raphael Kaltsas.

When George and Maria got married they immediately wanted to start having children and expand their family. For a long time Maria was unable to become become pregnant. She began to read various books about St. Raphael and his miracles. One night while reading one of these books she fell asleep and in her dream saw herself walking up stairs towards a church, and from inside the church she heard the cries of a little child. She walked into the church and saw a baptism taking place, but she didn't recognize anyone. To her right she saw a priest dressed in white and she also was dressed in white. He looked at her and smiled, but next to her were two women dressed inappropriately, and he made a look to her as if saying he disapproved of the way they were dressed. Then she suddenly woke up.

First Good Friday Procession Allowed in Smyrna Since 1922

For the first time since 1922, the Greek Orthodox Church of Agia Photini was granted the permission to hold its Good Friday Epitaphio Service outside on a public street in Izmir, Turkey.

April 21, 2014

The Resurrection of Christ as a Response to Reincarnation

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

The resurrection is the hope that Christ brought to the world that lived under the dominion of death. It is an event that shows the value of the human body, because what we expect as a result of the Resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of the bodies that were dissolved after their separation from their souls. The proclamation, therefore, of the Resurrection of Christ, and the consequences it has on the whole human race, is the answer of Christianity to all those who talk about reincarnation, whether they have been influenced by ancient Greek philosophers or by Oriental religions.

Let Us Purify Our Senses!

The mysterious stillness of the Paschal night, the heart is seized by a familiar joy in anticipation of "meeting Christ." The air is cool, the streets deserted. A gentle light like the dawn descends upon the soul and a pleasant warmth embraces the heart. It seems as if one actually hears the distant song of the angels in heaven. Closer and closer their singing inclines towards the earth:

Verses of Praise for the Eight Modes of Byzantine Music

In the Orthodox Church every Sunday we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with a series of hymns in a particular mode (or tone) of Byzantine music. There are eight modes in Byzantine music and each Sunday is dedicated to one of them, with the cycle of the eight modes, known as the Paschal Cycle, restarting again every eight weeks. The texts for these Services are contained in the Parakletiki.

April 20, 2014

The Last Pascha of Elder Paisios in 1994

By Archimandrite Arsenios Katerelou

Now, with regards to Elder Paisios, when I was at the Theological School, particularly in 1993-1994, I would often go to Souroti and participated then in several services, liturgies, etc.

I remember when we did an Unction Service and when the time came for my unworthiness to anoint Elder Paisios, he, because of my priesthood and of course his humility, bowed and kissed my sinful hand. I then blushed and lost it, and the only way I could legitimately react was for me to spontaneously receive his special blessing, because I had before me a Saint, and to kiss his hand at the same time. However, as I moved to reach down and kiss his hand, there was a clash of heads! Only, one was full of mind, or rather, full of Divine Grace, and the other one was hollow, not only of mind, but also of Grace, and this was shown from the hit - this is of course a hyperbole.

April 19, 2014

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2014

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

April 18, 2014

She Also Was A Mother

By Archimandrite Photios Gavrielatou

In every corner of the Orthodox universe, at the time when the trembling voice of the humble priest is heard saying, "today is hung on wood", all of creation kneels before the sight of the Crucified God.

At that time the love of God is crucified and sacrificed, eyes begin to flow with tears, the heart beats endlessly before the greatness of the icon of the Blameless One.

At that time every hurting soul kneels and offers the roses of forgiveness of the human race.

Christ Speaks To Us From the Cross (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk)

By St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Mankind, why have you deserted Me? Why do you turn away from the person that loves you? Why have you joined forces with my enemy? Remember that I descended from Heaven for your sake. Remember that I became incarnate for your sake. Remember that I was born of the Virgin Mary for your sake. Remember that I became a baby for your sake. Remember that I humbled Myself for your sake. Remember that I became poor for your sake. Remember that I dwelt upon the earth for your sake. Remember that I was persecuted for your sake. Remember that I suffered verbal abuse and was disgraced. I was wounded, I was spit upon, I was slapped, I was ridiculed and I was unjustly accused just for you. Remember that for you I was numbered among the unjust. Remember it was for you that I suffered a disgraceful death. Remember it was for you that I was buried. I came down from the heavens in order to make it possible for you to be lifted up to the heavens. I became humble in order to raise you up. I became poor so that I could make you rich. I was disgraced in order to make you honorable. I was wounded in order to bring you back to life.

Elder Paisios on How to Deepen our Experience of the Feasts of the Church

- Elder, how can we live the feasts spiritually?

- In order for us to live the feasts, we must have our mind on the holy days and not on the jobs we have to do for the holy days. We must think of the events of each holy day (Christmas, Theophany, Pascha, etc.) and say the Prayer while glorifying God. In this way we will celebrate with great reverence every feast.

Secular people seek to understand Christmas with pork, Pascha with lamb, and Carnival with confetti.

Did Only One Thief Insult Christ on the Cross?

By John Sanidopoulos

The Synoptic Gospels contain an interesting detail often overlooked in regard to the two thieves, or bandits, crucified with Christ. We read the following:

A) Matthew 27:44

"...καὶ οἱ λῃσταὶ οἱ συσταυρωθέντες αὐτῷ ὠνείδιζον αὐτόν"

"...and the bandits who were crucified with him insulted him."

Turkish Byzantinist Believes True Cross "Hidden" in Hagia Sophia

As reported in the Turkish newspaper Sabah, Radi Dikici, one of Turkey's most eminent Byzantinists [among his books are Bizans İmparatorluğu Tarihi (History of the Byzantine Empire), Şu Bizim Bizans (This Our Byzantium) and a novel titled Empress Theodora] believes that a portion of the True Cross discovered by Empress Helen in the fourth century and brought to Constantinople still resides somewhere in the area of Hagia Sophia, in a hidden location.

April 17, 2014

Following in the Footsteps of Christ Who Suffered For You

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

Together with the other benefits you can receive from the holy contemplation of the Crucifixion, there is the following:

A) Feel sorry and hurt not only for your past sins, but also for the passions still living inside you, that put your Lord on the Cross.

Holy Thursday in Patmos 2014 (photos + video)

Holy Thursday was celebrated today with much splendor, as every year, on Patmos, the island of the Apocalypse, with the annual Service of the Sacred Basin. It is a reenactment of the Mystical Supper of the Lord and His supreme act of humility by washing His disciples feet the night before His Crucifixion.

April 16, 2014

"The Body of God Both Nourishes and Sanctifies Me"

By Elder Gerasimos Menagias

Knowing that the hour of His sacrifice had arrived, our Savior Jesus Christ wanted to leave us before His Passion a greater proof of His love. Therefore He established the great mystery of the Divine Eucharist.

The revelation of this love, which was made during the last moments before His death, makes a deep impression in the hearts of men, and is reckoned exceedingly precious. For the same reason, men also usually bequeath gifts to the persons dearest to them in their wills in memory of the love they had for them.

"But Thou, O my Jesus, when Thou didst leave this world, what didst Thou leave us in remembrance of Thy love? Thou didst give us Thy whole self. Thou didst leave us Thy body, Thy blood, Thy soul, Thy Divinity - in a word, Thy whole self, holding nothing back."

Holy Unction and Holy Wednesday

"Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the presbyters of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well and the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15)

In the evening of Holy Wednesday there is celebrated in our churches the Mystery of Great Unction (or Anointing). During the celebration there are seven readings from the Gospels, seven from the Epistles and seven Prayers, and ideally seven Priests (if possible). In this way the oil of Great Unction is blessed, and the Priest in turn blesses the faithful by anointing them with oil crosswise on the forehead, the chin, the cheeks, the palms and the hands.

The Cross as a Balance Scale of Righteousness

(On Wednesday and Friday of Great Lent)

When the thief beheld the Author of life hanging upon the Cross, he said: If Thou wert not God, Who art here crucified with us, then had the sun not veiled its rays, neither would the earth have shaken with trembling. But do Thou, Who sufferest for all men, remember me, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.

Behold, the Bridegroom is Coming - Ιδού, ο Νυμφίος έρχεται

Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He finds watching. And again unworthy is he whom he shall find careless. See to it, my soul, that sleep does not overcome you, lest you be given over to death and are locked out of the kingdom. But arise and cry out: Holy, Holy, Holy are You our God, through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

April 15, 2014

On the Troparion of Kassiani (P.B. Paschou)

By P.B. Paschou

Let us now come to the famous poetic masterpiece of Kassiani, which is chanted on Great Tuesday evening and is part of Matins for Great Wednesday, that begins "Lord, 
sins". This troparion is chanted in plagal of the fourth tone, and is a poetic lyrically clear elaboration of a scene from the Gospel, that is very dramatic: the scene is of the prostitute who came weeping to Christ, when He was in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and she began to pour precious myrrh and hot tears on His feet, and then wiped them off with her loosened hair, which until then was a net with which she fished young men into sin.

One must not have the slightest idea and knowledge of literature in general, and poetry in particular, to ascribe the sins of the woman of the poem to the woman who wrote the poem, and so equate the prostitute of the Gospel with the venerable nun Kassiani, who wrote this famous poem.

That the poem was made for the prostitute of the Gospel is shown a) from internal testimony ("offering Thee myrrh before Thy burial") and b) from external testimony, given by the Tradition of the Church, which has put this troparion to be chanted on that day of Holy and Great Week, when repentance is spoken about with the public confession of "the prostitute woman who anointed the Lord with myrrh".

Finally, it would not be improper to give a rough translation of the troparion, even though if delivered well with Byzantine music it has no need of an interpretation - for those Christians of the Orthodox Church, of course, who love to follow the services. Therefore, this troparion of Kassiani is as follows:

Lord, the woman who strayed from Your path and fell into many sins, as soon as she realized how close she was to authentic love, the Lord of all, God, she sold everything to buy precious myrrh, and like another myrrhbearer, she comes with sighs and tears, bringing to You shortly before Your burial, the myrrh of her love. Woe to me, groans the sinful woman, having within me night of complete darkness, and the only thing churning inside my thick darkness, is the inspiration for debauchery and the eternal passionate love for sin, that makes my life like a gloomy night, without a moon.

But You, my Lord, accept the tears that run like a faucet from my eyes, You, who makes the water of the sea into a cloud, that gently falls back to earth. Bend down and hear the heavy sighs of my pained heart, You, who lowered the heavens by Your inexpressible incarnation. Let me kiss all over and wash with my tears Your immaculate feet, and then wipe them with the hair of my head; those feet which, one evening, when Eve heard the steps of in Paradise, she ran to hide out of fear. I am very sinful, Lord. For, just as one cannot count the multitude of sins that I have committed so far, so also can no one count the abyss of Your just judgement and Your love, by which you save our souls, my Savior and my God. Do not now overlook and be in contempt of Your servant, who is repentant and pleads with You for Your compassion, You who are of immeasurable and infinite compassion.

The "love of sin", which blinds the wise and shreds the powerful, has mounted all of us and holds us by our passions and weaknesses, as if holding the mane of a horse, and the inspiration of debauchery pushes us to fall into the abyss of loss. Hopefully we can all shake off, these days, the inspiration of debauchery and the passionate love of sin, that governs us, to burn away all our loves for sin, and with the myrrh of our tears wipe the immaculate feet of Christ, that journey along the road of martyrdom, for our sake.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

The Bridegroom of our Church

His Eminence Metropolitan Eustathios of Sparta

The icon of the Bridegroom of the Church, which shows our Lord with a crown of thorns, is the most loving and sympathetic icon for every Christian, even those who are hurting.

Those who hurt find rest near the one who hurts.

The wounded find comfort in one who has more wounds, because they is in a position to understand him.

April 14, 2014

Saint Ardalion the Mime as a Model for our Lives

Holy Martyr Ardalion the Mime (Feast Day - April 14)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ardalion lived at the end of the third century and practiced the profession of mime, or actor. He was truly a great "talent", which is why his presence in the theater caused crowding. On an official day, when the theater was packed and the Provincial Ruler was present, as well as other State officials, Ardalion "staged" his own show, making reference to Christians by highlighting their explicit courage with which they expressed their faith before the powers of the State, the patience they had during horrific torture, as well as the love they showed even to their executioners. He himself played a Christian, who was tortured hard, and even though he suffered, he remained calm and peaceful. Therefore, he was hung high and showed that he was being tormented and suffering, after allegedly they had torn his flesh and he bled like a river. His depiction was so vivid and amazing, that viewers below began to fervently clap for the skill of the artist, who managed to inspire viewers sympathy and admiration for Christians.

The Inner Freedom and Purity of Life of Joseph the All-Comely

By Fr. John Sourlinga

In the Orthodox Church, according to the Menologion, Great Monday is dedicated to the memory of Joseph, the so-called "All-Comely", the son of Jacob, who is spoken about in the Old Testament, as well as the barren fig tree, that Jesus cursed and was withered in a single word.

In the oikos of the synaxarion for this day we read: "Joseph, though enslaved in body, preserved his soul in freedom."

Holy Martyr Thomais as a Model for our Lives

St. Thomais the Prudent (Feast Day - April 14)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Thomais was born and lived in Alexandria. She followed a married life and always had a blessed family, connecting with her husband in true and sincere love. Their peaceful coexistence was hated by the devil, the inventor of evil, and he wanted to separate them in a tragic way.

April 13, 2014

As We Prepare To Celebrate Pascha (Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras)

By His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras

We already find ourselves to be before Great Week and the cosmo-salvific feast of Pascha. Today is Palm Sunday, in which we celebrate the palm-bearing entrance of our Lord into the Holy City. The spiritual fight of all those who struggled during the period of Holy and Great Lent has reached its climax. Hearts are in a hurry to find themselves before the Crucified Lord, to worship Him and express to Him hymns and glorify His Resurrection from the dead.

I communicate with you today to wish you wholeheartedly, that you finish with joy the sacred fight and enjoy the Paschal joy and gladness.

For this reason I desire to draw your attention to certain issues, which we must know about and put into practice as faithful children of our Holy Orthodox Church.

The feast of Pascha is the greatest and most splendid feast of our Church. The earthly and the heavenly celebrate and all things are filled with the light of the Resurrection. The hearts of all the inhabitants of the earth dance with joy and the souls of those in Heaven rejoice with the Angels and the Saints who have from ages past pleased God. On this day we must all partake of the Sacred and Eucharistic Table, dancing with the visible and invisible worlds.

Unfortunately some situations occur, which must be corrected:

First, while there is a massive attendance of people at the ceremony of the Resurrection, and this causes maximum joy, yet after this brilliant ceremony and before the Resurrectional Divine Liturgy, some (and alas, not a few) forsake the Risen Lord at the time the liturgizing Priest chants: "Christ is Risen and let His enemies be scattered, and let all those flee from His face who hate Him." This is a plan and trap of the most-deceiving and good-hating devil, who rejoices when the faithful leave the Church.

And I ask you, my brethren: Are all those who leave enemies of our Lord? Do they hate Jesus Christ? Certainly not! But they are lured by a very bad and sinful habit, which in recent years like leprosy has crept into and contaminated our ecclesiastical-spiritual life. It is a great sin to leave the church after the first "Christ is Risen".

My beloved, whoever reads this text, become preachers to our other brethren, that they may understand to remain with joy and prayer for the Paschal Divine Liturgy, and after they can go with the grace of our Risen Lord to their homes to taste of the physical table.

Recall, my brethren, the complaint of our Lord to His Disciples, when he found them asleep at the painful hour of prayer in the Garden of Olives: "Could you not watch with Me one hour?" (Matt. 26:40). Could you not for a little while keep vigil with Me.

To the question of our Lord addressed to those who leave before the Liturgy of the Resurrection: "My children, why do you abandon Me? Could you not endure for a little while, to keep vigil with Me? Did I not go to the Cross for you? Did I not descend into Hades for you? Did I not rise for you?"

How do you think they will respond?

My brethren, let us fight this evil. Let us heal this plague.

I pray for it with all my soul.

Second, many of our brethren who have lost loved ones to eternity, refuse to go to church on the day of Pascha, saying that those who "mourn" should not participate in this joyful feast. This is a great delusion, and we can only consider it as an invention of the devil. If we are to attend church on every feast day, how much more on the holy and great day of Pascha, during which our departed brethren, our loved ones who are in Heaven, dance with and celebrate with the children of the Resurrection, that is, the Saints. Did we not chant: "Christ is risen from the dead, by death He has trampling on death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life"?

Pascha is their day and yet will we be absent from the church?

Pascha is their own special feast, and will we be shut in our homes weeping "as others who have no hope"? (1 Thess. 4:13).

Our father, our mother, our children, our brother, our sister and whoever else has left this world, will be at the celebration of the Resurrection, and you their child, their mother, their father or whatever other relative, will be absent and in the darkness of mourning, which does not have a place in the hearts of the children of the Resurrection of Christ?

All of you, my brethren, come to church. There, before our Lord, before the sacred, the blessed and the immortal Table, we will meet our much-beloved ones who are in the embrace of our Heavenly Father, and we will chant the victory hymn to the conqueror of death, our Risen Lord.

Third, I will mention another very important issue. During the final days of Great Week, and especially on the day of Pascha, in many places, in cities and especially in villages, there is unfortunately the evil habit of fireworks and firecrackers. This is a foreign practice to our Orthodox faith, which often ends up being dangerous, because every year in some area we mourn its victims. Many of our fellow men and in particular (what a shame!) small children, are dangerously injured or maimed.

It is a habit which like the others is disrespectful, since it agitates the atmosphere of piety and prayer and distracts the faithful from the ceremony.

In our effort and our struggle to bring healing to the liturgical life of our Church from such exceptions, we invite all to celebrate Pascha with caution, silence, prayer and devotion, that we may enjoy the heavenly joy of Resurrection gladness.

Protect your children, our children, from the dangers above. Do not encourage them in unfamiliar and dangerous "celebrations".

I believe that the voice of your Bishop, which comes from a love for all in his heart, will be heard and we will all have the joy to celebrate Pascha together with the Angels and the Saints.

My blessed children, with these thoughts I wish you from deep within my soul,

A good Great Week, a good spiritual struggle and a good Resurrection.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Palm Sunday in Orthodox Culture

By Dean Kalimniou

«΄Ηρθ'ο Λάζαρος, ήρθαν τα Βάγια, ήρθεν κι ο Χριστός από την Βηθανία...» ("Lazarus has come, the Palms have come, and Christ has come from Bethany...") goes the Epirot Palm Sunday carol. It is interesting that popular folklore preserves the association between the Feast of Palm Sunday, commemorating Christ's triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the Resurrection of Lazarus as these two feasts are inextricably and theologically linked.

April 12, 2014

"Israel Does Not Know Me..."

By Panagiotis Melekidis, theologian

Having completed the period of Holy and Great Lent, we are now being led to the Passion, Burial and Resurrection of Christ. Already, on Clean Monday, we read the prophecy of Isaiah: "The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner's manger, but Israel does not know Me, My people do not understand" (1:3).

We are often troubled by the hatred shown by the fellow countrymen of the Lord against His person, a hatred that resulted in a painful death. But in order not to interpret this attitude with emotional or moralistic criteria it is necessary to consider the spiritual condition of those specific historical-societal conditions.

Saint Lazarus the Friend of Christ as a Model for our Lives

St. Lazarus, who was four days dead (Feast Day - Saturday of Lazarus)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Lazarus came from Bethany. He became heavily ill, and by the time his friend Christ came to Bethany from the city in which He was to be found teaching, he died and his body had been in the tomb four days. When Christ came to Bethany He met the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, and after comforting them He told them that their brother would rise. He asked to be led to the tomb, which was a cave sealed with a heavy stone. Christ asked that the stone be moved, despite the objections of the sisters of Lazarus and the bystanders due to the odor, since he was in the tomb four days. Then He called for Lazarus by name and resurrected him. He asked that he be untied, because they had tied him up, and to allow him to go back to his house. Later He attended dinner with him, hosted by his sisters in honor of Christ.

April 11, 2014

"Tell My Brethren..." (An Exhortation to Priests for Holy Week)

By His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

We have once again arrived before the gates of the revered Passion of Christ.

We have prepared throughout the duration of Holy and Great Lent to bear the fruit of spiritual virtues, that we may worthily venerate the Immaculate Passion and see the light of His Resurrection.

The sacred hymnographer of our Church, Saint John of Damascus, is characteristic and revealing: For one to see the unapproachable light, they must previously purify themselves and become all light. He writes: "Let us purify our senses and behold the unapproachable light of the Resurrection."1

Saint Antipas as a Model for our Lives

St. Antipas the Hieromartyr (Feast Day - April 11)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The sacred hymnographer calls him a divine myrrhgusher, a fellow athlete of the Martyrs, all-famed Hierarch and holder of the first-seat of Pergamon, and great physician of those with dire dental disease. Christ Himself praises him in the Apocalypse by calling him His faithful martyr: "Antipas, My faithful martyr" (2:13).

April 10, 2014

The Confession of Barba-Theodoros the Unconfessed

Barba-Theodoros* lived in the village of Xeromeros in Aetolia-Acarnania. He was around 52 years old and never went to confession. Yet he would go to church and had a good intention.

Once, when he was in the town of Astako for a business matter, he went to the Sacred Church of Saint Nicholas, where he found the parish priest Fr. Hierotheos, who was also a Spiritual Father, and he confessed. He made a formal confession, but he did not confess his heavy sins. Fr. Hierotheos, in order to support his repentance, recommended that he visit the Sacred Monastery of Saint Gerasimos in Kefallonia which celebrates in the summer on the 16th of August.

Holy Hieromartyr Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1821)

St. Gregory V, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - April 10)

By Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra

Born in 1745 in the bosom of a poor family from Dimitsana in the Peloponnese, Saint Gregory received his earliest education from his uncle who was a hieromonk, and then went to live with him in Smyrna. Becoming a monk in the monastery on the island of Strophades, he completed his theological studies on Patmos. On his return to Smyrna, Metropolitan Procopios, who showed him a fatherly affection, made him archdeacon and then ordained him priest. When Procopios was elevated to the Patriarchate in 1788, he consecrated Gregory to succeed him.

April 9, 2014

God Will Not Judge Us Because We Sinned

By Metropolitan Augoustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina

Christ accepts everyone, even the greatest sinners. No matter how many sins a person has committed, Christ forgives, provided they repent. Therefore, "Repent!" shouts the venerable Mary of Egypt. But every day and every hour Christ shouts: "Repent!" (Matt. 3:2). He has called us to change our conduct, like Mary of Egypt and all the saints changed.

Elder Paisios on Finding the Way Leading to Jesus Christ

Elder Paisios was asked,

"What should I do to find the way leading to Jesus Christ?"

A Fresco of Elder Paisios Talking With Pilgrims in Beroia

April 8, 2014

Concerning the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

From March 6-9, 2014 there took place in Constantinople the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches which was followed by a festive Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, during which the Message of the Synaxis was read that referred to contemporary happenings that create problems in countries and among people. At the Divine Liturgy representatives of the third according to order Patriarchate of Antioch did not attend.

I do not know exactly what happened and what was discussed at the Conferences, but I was informed just like the entire fullness of the Church from printed and electronic media. I hope at some point there will be an update for the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece, so that as responsible Hierarchs we will have a certain knowledge of such issues concerning the life of the Church.

Despite my absence, with the most up-to-date knowledge I will record my thoughts on the critical issues from the texts I read.