May 22, 2014

Annual Update and Appeal

Dear Readers:

One year ago I sought your help to expand this ministry, and many of you graciously responded, and for that I am grateful. It showed me how much you value this ministry, understand its impact and desire for its expansion. Without your generosity, this ministry would not exist and cannot exist.

May 21, 2014

Elder Sophrony on the Lowest and Loftiest Spiritual States

By Elder Sophrony Sakharov

Of the spiritual states of the Christian and, more especially perhaps, of the monk, the lowest is "outer darkness" (Matt. 8:12) and the loftiest - "the kingdom of God comes with power" (Mk. 9:1). Complacent narrow-mindedness prevents an enormous number of people from accepting real Christianity, and even alienates them. But it is still possible in our time, too, to find ascetics striving for sanctity whose experience approaches the universal. They have suffered the agony of mental see-sawing; tortures of conscience because of their depravity and iniquity before God; soul-destroying uncertainty and dolorous combat with the passions. They have known the torments of hell, the blackness of despair, the fetters of death dealing despondency, the anguish that defies description and the distress of being forsaken by God. The ascetic who has sought and found true repentance will similarly be familiar with numerous categories of spiritual joy and peace, of inspired faith and healing hope. The fire of Divine love touches the heart and mind of him who prays and with it a vision of the unfading Light of the "city to come" (cf. Heb. 13:14). Refined by fasting and prayer, the heart through grace becomes clairvoyant when the depths of fellow souls are revealed to it. Attention is not stayed on other aspects of intuition. Generally, to begin with, comes the grace of "mindfulness of death". This is an especial state when eternity knocks at the heart living in the darkness of sin. Here the Divine Spirit, still unrecognized, still unknown and concealing itself, imparts to the spirit a vision, difficult to explain, of the outside world - the world, the whole of cosmic being, stamped from the very outset with the seal of corruption, where all is meaningless, engulfed in the shadow of death.

A Miraculous Appearance of Saint Helen to a Cypriot Woman

Processional icon of Sts. Constantine and Helen from the 17th century, in the Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen in the village of Sarandi.

By His Eminence Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou

To understand the magnitude and strength of the Service of a Consecration of a Temple, I will tell you a story from five years ago that took place in a village of our Metropolis, in Sarandi. There Saint Helen appeared to a woman who lives in that village, and the church there is dedicated to Saints Constantine and Helen.

Saint Constantine: From Legend to Revilement

By Protopresbyter Fr. Constantine Strategopoulos

First and foremost, I wish to offer my heartfelt thanks to the local bishop, His Eminence Metropolitan of Piraeus, for the blessing he has bestowed upon us to carry out these lectures within his diocese; and, of course, my utmost thanks go to the vicars and the superintendent of this holy temple for extending a loving invitation to us.

As mentioned before, all these lectures revolve around Saint Constantine and the Edict of Milan. If I were to give this lecture a specific title, to present you with a rough idea of what I am about to discuss, I would call it “From Legend to Revilement”. You will soon understand what I mean by this. And, of course, I cannot help but being personal; it cannot be otherwise, it is impossible for me to speak about Saint Constantine and his mother in a purely theoretical, scientific and historical manner; I will do it to the best of my ability and to the extent that my powers allow. But since that place, the city of Constantine, has marked our lives ‒ it is, after all, my birthplace ‒ I can never speak about it without a sense of deep involvement when I recollect the circumstances that introduced us to Saint Constantine.

May 20, 2014

The Empire of Constantine the Great

The Roman Empire at the death of Constantine the Great in 337 A.D.

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In the Christian Roman Empire there were three main features, namely the Hellenistic and Hellenic Tradition, Roman Law, and the Orthodox Faith. The Romans are Orthodox and their Orthodoxy is expressed through ancient Greek terminology. In the Roman Empire (Byzantium) the residents came from various nationalities and races, but they had common features, such as the Hellenistic and Hellenic tradition and Orthodoxy. There were two basic languages, namely Greek and Latin. Certainly there was a cultural and linguistic osmosis and various influences. But the cultural and religious traits were certainly common.

Three Basic Prerequisites for a Spiritual Life

By Protopresbyter Fr. Gerasimangelos Stanitsas

1. The Salvific Work of Christ

The Incarnation of the Son of God is the fundamental prerequisite for the true life of man, to be united with God. Since man is the image of Christ who is the unchanging image of the Father, the "firstborn of all creation", the union of the two natures of Christ is the basic element of His existence. For man to become a true man he must become like Christ. The Incarnation negates the barrier of nature that separates man from God, while the Resurrection of Christ negates sin and death.

The Mystery of Baptism in Mexico

May 19, 2014

The missionary work of the Sacred Metropolis of Mexico and Central America is seen through the everyday lives of the citizens of each country in the Metropolis. Despite all the geographical, cultural and economic difficulties, of both Archbishop Athenagoras and the Priests of the countries of the Metropolis, they are doing excellent missionary work.

Saint Lydia of Philippi as a Model for our Lives

St. Lydia of Philippi (Feast Day - May 20)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Lydia was from Thyatira and lived in Philippi of Macedonia. She was a person with sacred concern. The material-loving religion of idols did not give her rest and she did not tolerate the worship of quarrelling gods who become enraged. A blessed earthquake took place within her, which demolished the idols and simultaneously became the reason to lead her on the path to the garden of prayer of the Jews. There she came to know the Law of Israel and this ignited within her the thirst to seek and find the Savior of the world, Whom she later heard about through the Apostle Paul.

May 18, 2014

Lykourgos Angelopoulos, Teacher of Byzantine Music, Has Reposed

One of the most esteemed teachers of Byzantine Music in the world, Protopsaltis Lykourgos Angelopoulos, reposed this morning, Sunday 18 May 2014, at the age of 73. He was the first chanter of the Church of Saint Irene of Aiolou in Athens for over 30 years and his funeral will take place there this Wednesday morning, May 21.

Synaxis of All our Holy Fathers, Archbishops and Patriarchs of Constantinople

On the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, the Ecumenical Patriarchate every year celebrates the feast of the Synaxis of All our Holy Fathers, Archbishops and Patriarchs of Constantinople as a memorial.

Commemoration of All Orthodox Martyrs Under the Arian Emperor Valens

When the impious Emperor Valens (364-378) lived in Nicomedia, he began a persecution of all Orthodox who subscribed to the "homoousion", seeking to remove them from the Empire. Among them were eighty Orthodox clergy, who visited him to talk about the issue. These Holy Martyrs were then ordered into exile, but secretly ordered to be burned alive in the middle of the sea. Their memory is honored annually on May 18, according to Codex 53 of the Vlatadon Monastery.

Below is a description of the persecution according to the historian Socrates Scholasticus (bk. 2, chs. 14-17):

May 17, 2014

Better To Sin Out Of Weakness Than Ideology

Below is an excerpt from a discussion between a young man and Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (+ 1989):

"Why, Father Epiphanios, is this and that and the other thing prohibited, when they are done out of 'sincere love'?" asked a young person in regards to the various sins of the flesh. Why are 'relations' prohibited for young boys and girls?

Statement on Homosexuality by the Holy Synod of Cyprus

As the first-ever gay pride parade in Cyprus draws near (May 31), the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus released an official statement at the request of many of the faithful who felt provoked due to recent publications and activities of homosexuals on the island.

May 16, 2014

Do We Want To Be Christians Without Christ?

By Photios Kontoglou

When you talk to pseudo-christians about hard asceticism of the body and spirit for the love of Christ, they become angered, calling you a fakir, pagan or barbarian.

If you want to test the faith of a Christian, talk to them about asceticism. The faithful will feel compunction, while the lukewarm, those who are fake and faithless, will protest.

What about the sayings of Christ: "Blessed are they who have left all and followed Me," or "The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force," or "In the world you will have sorrow," or "Tight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life."

May 15, 2014

Healing By Prayer and Fasting

Greek Orthodox Leader explains philosophy on visit to Tacoma church.

Steve Maynard
May 8, 1999
Tacoma News Tribune

He lives in two worlds.

Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos is a Greek Orthodox bishop steeped in ancient Christian theology and monasticism. But he also is a student of contemporary problems.

He sought to bridge those two worlds in Tacoma this month, prescribing prayer and fasting as ways to heal the ills of the soul.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the Future of Hagia Sophia and Ukraine

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during his latest visit to Germany a few days ago, was interviewed by Deutsche Welle. Among other things, the Patriarch spoke about Hagia Sophia possibly becoming a mosque and the situation in Ukraine. Below are excerpts:

Saint Pachomios the Great as a Model for our Lives

St. Pachomios the Great (Feast Day - May 15)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The day of death, or rather repose, has been established as a day of celebration when we commemorate a saint, because essentially it is another birth in the kingdom of heaven. During the sequence of the services of Vespers and Matins, as well as the Divine Liturgy, there is chanted among other hymns the Apolytikion (Dismissal) of the Saint, which is a short hymn dedicated to the Saint, and it refers to their life and deeds and miracles.

May 14, 2014

Mid-Pentecost and Hagia Sophia

By John Sanidopoulos

The Great Church of the Holy Wisdom, or Hagia Sophia, built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and it has been proposed that it celebrated its feast on Mid-Pentecost, which falls on the Wednesday after the Sunday of the Paralytic, 25 days after Pascha. It was by far the largest and most splendid temple in all of Christendom. It's beauty and splendor was so magnificent, that it even had the power to inspire the Russian envoys which led to the conversion of the Slavic people.

Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God

By Archimandrite Silouan Peponakis

The feast of Mid-Pentecost is a feast of great importance, on which Christ is celebrated as the Wisdom of God.

A broad face, formed with many highlights, with almost rugged features, and a general tendency to avoid the beautification of the Lord, make this stunning icon from the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki (image above). From its title, which is also the title of this article, it is speculated that the icon was originally in the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God in Thessaloniki, and that this church, like many churches, were modeled after the great Church of the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople.

The Beautiful Chapel of Saint Isidore in Leros

The island of Leros is located in the northern Dodecanese a few miles south of Patmos while the south is separated by a relatively narrow sea passage to Kalymnos. Leros is one of the Greek islands that have not been affected yet by mass tourism. The island is small, with many villages and numerous beaches for all tastes. St. Isidore is one of the most romantic landscapes of Leros. Built on a cliff above the sea, which is connected to the mainland by a stone path, about 50 meters away from the shore of the island. It looks like a tiny island independent of the island but also, directly related to it. The sunset here is one of the nicest you can enjoy. If you have not visited, it is worth seeing a traditional wedding here!

Saint Isidore of Chios as a Model for our Lives

St. Isidore the Martyr of Chios (Feast Day - May 14)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Isidore came from Alexandria and was a sailor in the royal fleet during the reign of Emperor Decius. He was raised in a pagan family, but the religion of idols did not satisfy him or internally fulfill him. Since he had a restless spirit, he sought the truth in order to find inner fulfillment and meaning in life. Because he was a benevolent man it did not take him long to find the truth in the Person of Christ, Who is the enhypostatic truth. For the truth is not an abstract concept, but a hypostasis - a person. When Christ was on trial before Pilate, He was asked what was truth, and Christ did not respond, but Pilate also did not wait for an answer. Saint Silouan the Athonite says that if Pilate really cared to learn what truth was, or rather who truth was, and put the question differently, asking rather "who is truth", the Lord would have responded: "I am the way the truth and the life."

May 13, 2014

The Orthodox Prison Ministry of Father Igor Pokrovskij

"I'm God's witness, not a public prosecutor" - Orthodox prison chaplain

Orthodox priest Igor Pokrovskij has been involved in prisoners' pastoral care for 16 years. In this time he has baptised almost 400 prisoners.

Are We What We Believe?

By Protopresbyter Fr. Themistokles Mourtzanou

Christians today often feel isolated from society and the world. We believe that being a Christian is a status that is an occasion for rejection, contempt or indifference.

Saint Glykeria as a Model for our Lives

St. Glykeria the Virgin-Martyr (Feast Day - May 13)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Glykeria was born in Trajanopolis in the second century, during a period of persecution for the Church. She was arrested and ordered to deny Christ and to sacrifice to idols. After boldly confessing her faith she then prayed sincerely and immediately demolished the idol of Zeus. Pagans who were present stoned her with a fury, but by divine economy no stone touched her. This resulted in their denial of idolatry and many of those present believed in Christ who were well-intentioned.

May 12, 2014

Ancient Church in Syria Burns, Frescoes Remain Unharmed

May 14, 2014

In Homs, Syria "eleven Christian churches are either completely destroyed or heavily damaged," related a local priest named George Abu Zahem to the Lebanese The Daily Star newspaper.

Saint Epiphanios of Cyprus as a Model for our Lives

St. Epiphanios of Salamis (Feast Day - May 12)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Epiphanios came from Eleutheroupolis in Palestine and lived in the fourth century. His parents were poor farmers who were Jews and raised him in the teachings of Judaism. After their death he was baptized and became a member of the Church of Christ, after being catechized by two scholar ascetics, Lucian and Hilarion. He then went to the desert of Palestine and was taught near famous ascetics. The reputation of Saint Epiphanios reached Cyprus, where he was elected Bishop of Constantia (Salamis).

Saint Thekla Monastery in Maaloula, Before and After the Catastrophe (photos)


Orthodoxy's Edgiest Monasteries

In February the Huffington Post published a list of the top fifteen monasteries that are built on the edge of what is architecturally possible, titled "Precarious Monasteries Reveal Faith Close To The Edge". Below are the Orthodox monasteries that were listed, that consisted of six in total:

# 3 Sumela Monastery in Altindere Valley, Turkey

May 11, 2014

The Mystery of the Movement of the Water

By the Venerable Bede

The angel is the one who descended invisibly into the pool and moved the water to provide the power of healing. Clothed in flesh, Christ descended into the water as the Angel of Great Counsel [Is 9:6], that is, as a herald of the Father's will to the Jewish people... The movement of the water suggests the Lord's Passion, which occurred by the nation of the Jews being moved and stirred up. And because through His Passion those who believed were redeemed from the curse of the law, it is as if they were healed as they descended into the troubled water of the pool... It is good that the one who first went down after the movement of the water was healed of whatever illness had him in its grip, for there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5]; so also a person, who in catholic unity is imbued with the mysteries of Christ, is healed from whatever illness, caused by his sins that holds him fast. Whoever is out of harmony with that unity is not capable of securing salvation, since it is from One.

"Christ Is Risen, Means That We Are All Risen!" (St. Justin Popovich)

The following sermon was delivered at the ─ćelije convent in 1978 on the Sunday of the Paralytic, which coincided with the feast day of St. John the Theologian (May 8).

By Saint Justin Popovich

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

In four words is expressed the entire mystery of this (and the other) world, of every person, of the mystery of my being, and of the mystery of your being. If there were no Risen Lord, His Resurrection would not be; and if there were no Risen Lord, we would not be – there would be no Christian in the world.

May 9, 2014

Mass Grave in Moscow Suburbs is Among Russia's Holiest Sites

The commemorative church and crosses built on the former Butovo Shooting Range are now visited by large numbers of Orthodox pilgrims every year.

Alexander Annin
May 6, 2014

On May 10, the Russian Orthodox Church will hold its annual special service in the Church of New Martyrs and Confessors in Butovo, a little-known site that is home to Russia's largest collection of holy relics.

Easter in the Middle East

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Easter issue of the American magazine TIME was dedicated to Christians who are "persecuted" in the Middle East and Egypt. A few items are suggestive of the situation in these countries in relation to its Christian element. Reference will be made according to reports from Kathimerini.

May 8, 2014

"The True Faith Must Be Linked With Love and Freedom": An Interview With Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

In light of the feast of Pascha, the journalist of the newspaper Kathimerini, Katerina Bakoyannis, came to Nafpaktos in order to conduct an interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.

The discussion with the journalist lasted over an hour and a half. Some excerpts from the discussion became an interview published in the paschal edition of the periodical "K" of Kathimerini (19-20 April 2014), titled "The True Faith Must Be Linked With Love and Freedom", which is reproduced below.

May 7, 2014

Upcoming Canonizations of Orthodox Elders

May 6, 2014

Elders Paisios, Iakovos Tsalikes, Amphilochios, Ephraim of Katounakia and Sophrony of Essex are sure to be included in the diptychs of the Church. This has entered the conscious of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, according to a Hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne to Agioritiko Vima.

May 1, 2014

Venerable New Martyrs Akakios of Neochorion, Euthymios of Peloponnesos and Ignatios the New

Saints Akakios of Neochorion, Euthymios of Peloponnesos and Ignatios the New (Feast Day - May 1)

The Holy Mountain has for centuries been a source of Repentance and Salvation for thousands. During the difficult years of the Turkish yoke, many turned to the Monasteries for spiritual direction. This was most evident in the numerous Neomartyrs, many of whom converted to Islam, but having realized the gravity of their sin, repented, and sought a way to prove their love for Christ. Three of these New Martyrs, Sts. Euthymios, Ignatios and Akakios are commemorated together on May 1st, likely because they lived in similar times, abandoned Christ for Islam, but repented and lived in asceticism on the Holy Mountain (specifically the Skete of the Honorable Forerunner of Iveron Monastery), and finally witnessed for Christ in martyrdom.

Elder Amphilochios Makris Soon To Be Canonized

April 28, 2014

According to information, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be visiting the island of the Apocalypse [Patmos] this coming September.