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 4: $1750)

October 31, 2015

Seeing is Believing: A Halloween Reflection

The Joshua Ward House in Salem, Massachusetts

By John Sanidopoulos

A few people have asked me, "John, as a knowledgeable and pious Orthodox Christian who has a positive view of Halloween, how do you celebrate the holiday? You wrote down what you wouldn't do, but never explained what you actually do." Well, the simple answer is that Halloween for me is just like any other day, pretty much, not because I avoid Halloween, but for me Halloween is a daily experience throughout the year, it just happens to be a little more intensified in the autumn months of September through November. So for me, October 31st may be Halloween, but every other day is Halloweenish, because I will involve myself with something on other days that your average person will consider only a theme for Halloween.

I understand that such an answer will confuse most people, while few others will feel me to be one of their kindred spirits. I'm not going to explain at this time what I mean when I say that Halloween is a daily experience, nor should you speculate, because that's not what this reflection is about, but I will say that by the time Halloween comes around, I sort of just sit back and relax and watch everyone else experience a little bit of what I daily experience, and I experience the day through others. Then I'll go home and watch some horror movies and Halloween specials while eating some candy, since I don't eat candy everyday. That is my typical Halloween.

Holy New Martyr Nicholas of Chios (+ 1754)

St. Nicholas the New of Chios (Feast Day - October 31)


You received a trophy of victory Nicholas,
Contesting steadfastly for Christ all-blessed one.

Saint Nicholas born into the pious family of Petros and Stamato in the village of Karyes on the island of Chios. From childhood, he cultivated all the holy virtues. When he was twenty his parents died, and he set off with a companion to seek his fortune as a stone-mason in Magnesia. But an accident or illness there deprived him of his reason and transformed his natural simplicity and meekness into idiocy, so that he was incapable of answering for himself for what he did.

Local Turks saw the young man's vulnerable situation as a chance to convert him to Islam, so they brought him before the judge. But since Nicholas was unable to make a response on his own, they sent him unharmed to his sister in Chios where she looked after him. However, in Magnesia a rumor spread that he denied his faith, changed his name and embraced Islam. This was told to his sister, and instead of keeping silent she spread the news, which came to the Turkish authorities. For this reason they dressed him in Turkish clothing and called him Mehmed, though they did not circumcise him. Unable to earn a living as a Muslim, he resorted to tending sheep. While the poor young man was keeping watch over the flocks, he met a monk named Cyril, who took pity on him and decided to do his best to bring him back to his right mind.

Holy Apostles Stachys, Apelles, Amplias, Urban, Narcissus and Aristobulus of the Seventy


To Stachys
With a pruning-knife, as corn,
Stachys reaps in his present life.

To Apelles, Amplias, Urban and Narcissus
The four-stringed harp of the Apostles,
Silently deprive spirits like a clef.

To Aristobulus
By your words Aristobulus you hunted souls,
Joined to Christ, your reward is to petition for the prey.

On the thirty-first the six Apostles found their end.

These six holy Apostles were among the Seventy Disciples of the Lord, and were all mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans.

October 30, 2015

Holy Martyrs Zenobios and Zenobia the Siblings

Sts. Zenobius and Zenobia (Feast Day - October 30)


Steadfast with you before the sword Zenobios,
Was the stout-hearted woman Zenobia.
Zenobios and his sister were beheaded on the thirtieth.

Zenobios and Zenobia were brother and sister from the town of Aegea in Cilicia. They inherited the true faith and great material wealth from their parents. At the death of their parents they worked zealously for the faith and with great love, distributing all their wealth to the poor. Because their hands were so generous, the hand of God shielded them from every evil intent of men and demons. The generous hands of Zenobios, which gave to the poor, were endowed by God with the gift of miracle-working, and Zenobios healed the sick of every kind of infirmity merely by touching them. Zenobios was appointed Bishop of Aegea because he showed great love to the people of God.

A Reflection on Hell (F. Dostoevsky)

By Fyodor Dostoevsky

Fathers and teachers, I ponder, "What is hell?" I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. Once in infinite existence, immeasurable in time and space, a spiritual creature was given on his coming to earth the power of saying, "I am and I love." Once, only once, there was given him a moment of active lifting love, and for that was earthly life given him, and with it times and seasons. And that happy creature rejected the priceless gift, prized it and loved it not, scorned it and remained callous. Such a one, having left the earth, sees Abraham's bosom and talks with Abraham as we are told in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and beholds heaven and can go up to the Lord. But that is just his torment, to rise up to the Lord without ever having loved, to be brought close to those who have loved when he has despised their love. For he sees clearly and says to himself, "Now I have understanding, and though I now thirst to love, there will be nothing great, no sacrifice in my love, for my earthly life is over, and Abraham will not come even with a drop of living water (that is the gift of earthly active life) to cool the fiery thirst of spiritual love which burns in me now, though I despised it on earth; there is no more life for me and will be no more time! Even though I would gladly give my life for others, it can never be, for that life is passed which can be sacrificed for love, and now there is a gulf fixed between that life and this existence."

October 29, 2015

The Relics of St. Maximus the Confessor in Georgia Authenticated

The excavation pit with the Saint's relics, 2010.

Tamara Manelashvili
October 27, 2015

With the blessing of His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia the Fifth International Theological Conference was held in Tbilisi. This year scientists, researchers, and Church figures from Serbia, Greece, Russia, the UK and Australia took part in the conference which was dedicated to the life and activity of St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-c. 662; feast: August 13/26).

At the conference the results were announced of the investigations lasting several years that were dedicated to the authenticity of the saint’s relics uncovered in Georgia in 2010.

Holy New Martyr Timothy of Esphigmenou (+ 1820)

St. Timothy of Esphigmenou (Feast Day - October 29)

Saint Timothy was born in the village of Paraora, in the district of Kessane in Thrace, and his birth name was Triantaphyllos. Later he married and had two daughters.

At a certain point in their marriage, his wife, having become beguiled by the devil and enamored by a Turk, converted to Islam to marry him, so she abandoned her husband and their two daughters. Meanwhile, Triantaphyllos hid his daughters with relatives in a nearby village to protect them from their mother.

After some time had passed Triantaphyllos sent his wife a message urging her to return to her family and to Orthodoxy. Repenting for the abandonment of her family and her apostasy, she responded positively, but could not immediately escape from her situation. For this reason Triantaphyllos presented himself before the Turkish judge and asked to be circumcised a Muslim. He did this to be in a position to rescue his wife.

The Ladder of Heavenly Unity

St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, located in the shadow of Mt. Sinai and the oldest continuously inhabited monastery in the world, needs assistance to sustain its sacred legacy.

In the following article, a monastic supporter shares personal experience of St. Catherine’s patristic spirit, alive with the fragrance of early Christianity.

Information on the financial crisis and how to help is located at the end of the article.

The Ladder of Heavenly Unity

Moses approached the divine fire of the Burning Bush with the footsteps of his mind bare, completely free from any human train of thought, wrote Saint Maximos the Confessor.

Continuing Orthodox monasticism’s oldest unbroken tradition, Sinai monks still liturgize, shoeless, over the roots of the Burning Bush. On the holy ground where Moses was commanded to remove his sandals – together with all earthly logic – monks turn diversity’s polarizing forces to unity – some of the ways St. Catherine’s Monastery brings Byzantium’s patristic spirit into the modern era as living tradition.

October 28, 2015

The NO of Greek Clergy in the Year 1940

By Eudoxia Augoustinou
Philologist, Theologian

Undoubtedly the year 1940 belongs to all the Greeks. Our people then were all united as a single soul, without any hesitation, in its stand against the raging torrent of Fascism and Nazism. Hence, the Church would not be absent from this titanic battle, which began on Monday October 28th in the year 1940, whose role today is permanently and systematically ignored or suppressed. And, as always, so also in 1940, the Church quickly acted with recorded acts of heroism and resistance, and became once again the guardian angel of a hurting people and an enclave of salvation.

Holy Hieromartyr Kyriakos of Jerusalem and his Mother Anna

Sts. Kyriakos and Anna of Jerusalem


For Kyriakos
Mingling with oil, all-blessed Kyriakos,
Your revered blood, it became a new mixture.

For Anna
Your flesh shined as it burned Martyr Anna,
Becoming an ever-shining lamp of the Lord.

Sozomen (c. 450 AD), in his Ecclesiastical History, states that it was said (by whom he does not say) that the location of the Holy Sepulchre was "disclosed by a Hebrew who dwelt in the East, and who derived his information from some documents which had come to him by paternal inheritance" (although Sozomen himself disputes this account in favor of it being solely divinely revealed) and that a dead person was also revived by the touch of the Cross.

The Four Holy New Martyrs of Rethymno (+ 1824)

Four Neomartyrs of Rethymnon (Feast Day - October 28)

Angelis and his brother Manuel, the sons of John Tetzepes, were well off married men with children who lived in the town of Melampes, near Rethymno, Crete. Their cousins George and Nicholas, sons of Constantine Tetzepes, also lived there and were well off married men with children as well. All four were farmers. As the island was under Turkish occupation, the four young men were Cryptochristians, like many of their fellow countrymen. Officially they had Turkish names and ostensibly conformed to Islamic customs but, in reality, they remained faithful to all the traditions of the holy Orthodox Church. They fought valiantly in the Greek War of Independence from 1821 to 1824 and, when the Turks recaptured Crete with the help of Egyptian troops, they were no longer afraid to declare their faith.

October 27, 2015

Why We Light Oil Lamps and Candles Before Relics and Icons

Below are two explanation by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite and St. Nikolai Velimirovich as to why we light oil lamps and candles before relics and icons:

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

There are four reasons Christians light oil lamps and candles before relics of the saints and icons.

1) To honor and glorify the saints.

2) When it is night, the light of the lamps diminishes the darkness of the night, to comfort the eyes of those who observe.

3) As an exhibit and sign of joy and brightness: specifically for when candles and lamps are lit during the day and the sun is shining brightly.

4) So that by the lighting of the lamps, God is gracious to those who offer the lamps.

Saint Procla, the Wife of Pontius Pilate


The Master stands beside you, Procla,
You who previously stood beside Pilate as his wife.

In the New Testament, the only reference to Pilate's wife exists in a single sentence by Matthew. According to Matthew 27:19, she sent a message to her husband asking him not to condemn Jesus Christ to death:

While Pilate was sitting in the judgment hall, his wife sent him a message: "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, because in a dream last night, I suffered much on account of him."

Pilate, in his anxiety to please the people and avoid trouble, did not heed the warning of his wife, who is not named.

October 26, 2015

Commemoration of the Transfer of the Icon of St. Demetrios from Thessaloniki to Constantinople

Commemoration of the Transfer of the Icon of St. Demetrios
to Pantokratoros Monastery from Thessaloniki (Feast Day - October 26)


You will not be absent from the royal city,
Being transferred there through your icon O Martyr.

During the reign of Emperor Manuel Komnenos (1143-1180), when Joseph was Abbot of the sacred and royal Monastery of Pantokratoros in Constantinople, in March of 1149, the Emperor was on his way to war with Sicily. Having passed through Thessaloniki, the Abbot met with the Emperor in a village two days from the city called Dobrochouvista, two miles from Beroea, about a two day journey from Thessaloniki. Among other things, the Abbot reminded the Emperor of his ancestor's promise to give the miraculous icon that lay upon the tomb of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki to the Monastery of Pantokratoros.

Holy New Martyr Joasaph the New (+ 1516)

St. Joasaph the New (Feast Day - October 26)


You combined asceticism with the contest of martyrdom, blessed one,
Receiving a double crown Joasaph.

Saint Joasaph was a monk and disciple of the Holy Patriarch Nephon II of Constantinople. Like the Holy Neomartyr Makarios, who was also a disciple of Patriarch Nephon, Joasaph also sought to give his life for Christ. Together all three went to Wallachia and Macedonia to preach the word of God to the thirsty people. According to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, "he strove as much as possible to imitate the virtues and struggles of his sacred teacher." Eventually they settled in Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain and lived there until the martyrdom of Saint Makarios in 1507.

The Three Adornments of Saint Demetrios

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

When praising the Wonderworker, Myrrh-Gusher and Great Martyr Saint Demetrios, Saint Gregory Palamas describes him as:

The great miracle of the ecumene,
the great adornment of the Church
and the mightiest of all.

And not only this God-seeing Father of the Church, but many other writers in hagiographic texts and eulogies refer with particular respect and reverence to this martyric figure, who is the guardian, the champion and the savior of Thessaloniki.

The Holy Week Services of St. Demetrios the Myrrhgusher

The love and devotion towards St. Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrhgusher from the Orthodox faithful of Thessaloniki is truly immense. Though to some it may seem hyperbolic, St. Demetrios has worked countless wonders both for the city of Thessaloniki, and for all the Orthodox faithful throughout the world. In praise of Christ Who strengthened him in his martyrdom, and in honor and thanksgiving to this great Wonderworker, various hymnographers have composed hymns beyond those of the standard Menaia in praise of St. Demetrios.

Many of these hymns comprise the so-called "Holy Week of St. Demetrios". This is a collection of pre-festal hymns from various sources in honor of the Saint, and are generally modeled after and grouped correspondingly to the days of Holy Week (i.e. the Passion and Resurrection of Christ). Thus, they begin on October 19th ("Palm Sunday") and proceed to the feast of St. Demetrios on October 26th ("Pascha"). Many of the hymns have been written by St. Symeon of Thessaloniki (+ 1429), so we can see how this is an old and established tradition of this local Orthodox Church.

October 25, 2015

The Great Miracle of Panagia Prousiotissa on October 25, 1918 During the Spanish Flu Pandemic

In October 1918 Agrinio had no more than 15,000 inhabitants. A plague of influenza, known as the Spanish Flu, had broken out in the city and spread to the surrounding area. There was no family to be found that did not lament its victims. The entire region was gripped in fear, because the situation was no better in Messolonghi and Aitoliko.

Science was unable to stem the course of the deadly disease. In Agrinio alone there were 40 to 50 deaths a day. Porters would carry the dead on two-wheeled carts to the cemetery, where the priest would read a short prayer, sometimes not, and they would be buried. Residents did not attend to the dead, for fear of the disease being transmitted.

All were mentally exhausted as they awaited their fate with folded hands. All hope seemed lost. Everything but faith was lost. But even this has weakened before the unrelenting pestilence. Yet within this maelstrom of despair, some of the elders remembered. Their memories go back 64 years, to the year 1854, when cholera had spread throughout Agrinio and decimated its population. It was then that they remembered the miracle of Panagia Prousiotissa. The "plank of salvation" was found. It was faith in the protection of Panagia Prousiotissa.

Holy Martyrs Markianos and Martyrios the Notaries

Sts. Markianos and Martyrios (Feast Day - October 25)


Perceiving the Notaries as pens of Christ,
They are painted with blood being slaughtered with the sword.
On the twenty-fifth Markianos and Martyrios were beheaded.

These saints of God were notaries (i.e. secretaries) under Paul, the Patriarch of Constantinople (Nov. 6), during the reign of Emperor Constantius (337-361). With the death of the great Emperor Constantine, the Arian heresy, which until then had been suppressed, revived and gained momentum. Even Emperor Constantius himself leaned toward this heresy.

October 24, 2015

Testimony of a Greek Colonel Concerning a Recent Miracle of Panagia Gorgoepikoos

October 22, 2015

A few days ago* there took place with brilliance and grandeur the celebration of Panagia Gorgoepikoos (She Who is Quick to Hear) at the Holy Monastery of Docheiariou in Mount Athos.

This is a miraculous icon of the Panagia which is celebrated every year in the month of October. Many pilgrims attend the festival at the Holy Monastery, many of whom are uniformed from the Armed Forces and Security Forces, who have a particular reverence for Panagia Gorgoepikoos, who in her own wondrous manner, as we shall see below, intervenes Quickly and Salvifically for all those who call upon her with faith.

This year, namely a week ago on the eve of the feast at the Holy Mountain, during the evening meal, a letter was read by an attendant of the Panagia to the Holy Abbot of the Monastery Gregory, concerning the many miracles that took place during this years feast.

Saint Arethas of the Kiev Caves Lavra and His Terrifying Vision

St. Arethas of the Kiev Caves Lavra (Feast Day - October 24)

Saint Arethas came from Polotsk and lived as a monk in the Kiev Caves Lavra. Although outwardly he renounced all things for the love of Christ, secretly he was a covetous and avaricious man. And as the Apostle Paul writes, "covetousness is idolatry" (Col. 3:5) and "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). He would secretly hoard money and other precious treasures in his cell, and never gave anything for the maintenance of the monastery or the help of the poor. He wouldn't even spend his riches on himself, but only gathered and hoarded.

Saint Arethas the Great Martyr and the Christian Martyrs of Najran

St. Arethas the Great Martyr and Those With Him (Feast Day - October 24)


To Arethas
Beheaded, Arethas the Martyr rushed towards God,
And many Martyrs likewise were also beheaded.
On the twenty-fourth Arethas and those with him were beheaded.

To the Woman and Child
The mother led to the fire is quietly burnt to ashes,
While the child speaks with inarticulate sounds.

These Martyrs contested for piety's sake in the year 524 in Najran, a city of Arabia Felix (present-day Yemen). When Dhu Nuwas, ruler of the Himyarite tribe in south Arabia, and a Judaizer (convert to Judaism), took power over King Elesbaan of Ethiopia who ruled in that area, he sought to blot out Christianity, especially at Najran, a Christian city. Against the counsels of Arethas, Governor of Najran, the city surrendered to Dhu Nuwas, who immediately broke the word that he would come in peace which he had given and sought to compel the city to renounce Christ.

The tyrant first wreaked his wrath on the holy bishop Paul, who had died two years before. He had his tomb opened and ordered his holy and much venerated relics to be burnt. He went on to burn all the priests, monks, nuns and clergy in the city, to the number of 477 persons. Then he beheaded 127 pious layfolk who offered their life to Christ. He had a rich widow, a noblewoman, brought before him. When persuasion failed its purpose, he threatened dreadful tortures if she would not deny her Christian faith. Her daughter, seeing her mother insulted by the tyrant and ill-treated by his soldiers, ran to Dhu Nuwas and spat in his face. He was enraged and had the twelve year old girl immediately beheaded. Then, in the height of cruelty, he made the mother drink a cup of her daughter's blood, before beheading her in turn.

October 23, 2015

Saint Ignatios, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 877)

St. Ignatios, Patriarch of Constantinople (Feast Day - October 23)


Having been removed from your former office,
You became a Forerunner of New Rome, Ignatios.

Saint Ignatios was born in Constantinople in 798. He was given the name Niketas by his father, Emperor Michael I Rangabe, who ruled the Roman Empire in the two years before the iconoclast Leo V the Armenian (813-820). His grandfather, the Emperor Nikephoros, had appointed Niketas, then a boy of ten, to exalted court offices, which he was never able to enjoy because, when Leo V deposed his father, their whole family had to enter the monastic life. So Niketas, at the age of fourteen, was made a eunuch and gladly became a monk, taking the name Ignatios, in the Monastery of the Archangels (which was previously known as Anatellontos and later became known as Satyros) of the Prince's Islands.

The Martyrdom of St. James the Just, the Brother of God and First Bishop of Jerusalem

By Eusebius of Caesarea
(Church History, Bk. 2, Ch. 23)

But after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to Caesar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him.

Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Savior and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear any longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head.

October 22, 2015

The Spiritual Law According to St. Mark the Ascetic

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Human societies have need of laws if they are to function correctly, and such societies are described as well-ordered. The existence Of laws is essential because fallen man with his passions creates huge social problems, since the principle of individual rights applies. This means that each person, in his attempt to exercise his rights to the full, comes into direct confrontation with other people, who are also in the grip of passions and want to satisfy their own wishes and their individual rights. So there must be laws to set matters in order and to determine the bounds of citizens’ rights.

What happens in human societies also occurs in the spiritual context for exactly the same reason. If everyone had within them the Holy Spirit working to bring about illumination and glorification, there would be no need for a ‘religious’ law. However, that will only happen in human life at the end of time for those who have full communion with the Triune God.

In the pages that follow we will look in greater detail at the meaning of law and its different levels. We will concern ourselves mainly, however, with the force and effect of the spiritual law according to the teaching of St Mark the Ascetic.

Saints Alexander the Bishop, Herakleios, Anna, Elizabeth, Theodote and Glykeria

St. Alexander and those with him (Feast Day - October 22)


For Alexander
The revered Alexander was cut at the throat,
Becoming a Martyr for Christ and not merely a sacrificer.

For Anna and Elizabeth
"Let us stand well and give our necks to the sword,"
Said the two champions between each other.

For Theodote and Glykeria
Theodote and Glykeria gave their necks,
For the sweet love of God.

October 21, 2015

Saint Porphyrios and the Flying Car

Being Back to the Future Day, I thought this would be an interesting story to share that includes a true flying car.

Saint Porphyrios had a spiritual daughter named Eleni, who was a seamstress that lived near the Church of Saint Dionysios the Areopagite in the Kolonaki area of Athens. A certain woman brought her a coat to fix the sleeve on that was especially difficult. Failing to fix it, she told Saint Porphyrios about it, who told her to bring him a scissors with a newspaper. Cutting the newspaper in the way that would fix the coat, he repaired the coat without handling it.

Saint Hilarion the Great (+ 372)

St. Hilarion the Great (Feast Day - October 21)


Sowing with tears and pain below,
Hilarion reaps rejoicing above.
On the twenty-first Hilarion entered his final sleep.

Saint Hilarion the Great was born in 292 AD at Thabatha, a town near Gaza in Palestine. His family were wealthy pagans. They sent him to be educated in Alexandria, where he converted to Christianity and was baptized. While he was in Egypt he heard much talk about the desert-dweller Saint Anthony the Great, so he visited him in the desert and became his disciple, which inspired him to devote himself entirely to the ascetic life. But as crowds flocked to the desert for the blessing of Anthony, he was prevented from attending to silence and prayer, so he departed to the inner desert, giving Hilarion his tunic of horse-hair and his coat of skin and sending him with companions to Maiuma in the region of Gaza.

October 20, 2015

A 103 Year Old Woman Who Was Baptized by St. Arsenios and is Related to St. Paisios

Thanos Chercheletzis
October 16, 2015

Her face is bright and cheerful, her eyes shine, she is flooded by the light of her Orthodox faith. Zoe Korsinidou, 103 years old, has had by the grace of God the blessing of two enlightened saints in her life, that the Orthodox Church has officially listed among its saints. She was baptized a Christian by St. Arsenios the Cappadocian and has family ties with St. Paisios the Athonite.

Metropolitan Barnabas of Neapolis and Stavroupolis visited the home of this elderly woman in Ambelokipi, Thessaloniki. He sat beside her and tightly held her hands. Her calloused hands, which when she was a baby, were anointed with chrism in the form of the Cross by St. Arsenios, and which carried St. Paisios when he was just a baby.

Saint Artemios the Great Martyr

St. Artemios the Great Martyr (Feast Day - October 20)


O Artemios whose life was all brilliant,
You endured beheading as your supreme boast.
On the twentieth astute Artemios was beheaded.

The holy, glorious martyr Artemios came from a noble family and was highly regarded by Emperor Constantine the Great, who promoted him to the rank of Patrician and appointed him Military Governor (dux augustalis) of Alexandria and of all Egypt (c. 330). Despite his high appointment and responsibilities, Artemios did not weaken in his faith or in his zeal to spread the message of salvation in Christ.

Upon the death of Emperor Constantine, his son Constantius inherited all the East and resided in Constantinople (337). He entrusted Artemios with the task of bringing the relics of the Apostle Andrew from Patras in the Peloponnese and the Apostle Luke from Thebes in Boetia to Constantinople, where they were placed in the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Holy Martyr Andronikos of Crete

St. Andronikos the Cretan (Feast Day - October 20)

The iconoclastic controversy, between 726-843, produced many martyrs, not only in Asia Minor, but also in places like Crete. Among them was Saint Andronikos the Martyr.

However, we would not have known of the existence of Saint Andronikos if it wasn't for Metropolitan Manuel of Gedeon, the Great Chartophylax (Keeper of the Archives) of the Great Church of Christ, who was an erudite author and historian of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and born in Crete. He compiled the book The Byzantine Heortologion (1896), which is a book of the feasts of saints. We are informed about Saint Andronikos in his later book called Sunday Readings (1918), where he writes that the Cretan Meletios Sergios found an old manuscript in the Synaxarion for the month of October in which it is written: "The commemoration of our Venerable Father Andronikos who was born and reared in Crete and struggled as a champion of Holy Icons along with Nicholas the Studite." He further writes in his study titled Dispute Concerning the Recognition of Iconophiles that there were 106 Confessors who suffered by the iconoclasts with Empress Theodora. In addition to these, he adds that there were "three more [martyrs] about whom I learned after the publication of my Byzantine Heortologion ... including Andronikos the Cretan, who struggled championing Holy Icons and is venerated on October 20th. He is found in only one manuscript."

October 19, 2015

A Recording of St. Paisios the Athonite Chanting the Prayer of Jesus

This recording was made in 1982, in which St. Paisios the Athonite is chanting the Prayer of Jesus, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" (which is repeated over and over in this recording).

Holy Martyr Varus and the Devout Cleopatra (St. Dimitri of Rostov)

St. Varus and those with him (Feast Day - October 19 & 25)

The Life of the Holy Martyr Varus
and the Seven Christian Teachers Who Were with Him,
and the Commemoration of the Blessed Cleopatra and Her Son John

Verses for October 19

For St. Varus
Varus was steadfast being scraped by the ignorant,
"Woe is me, for the prince is under Satan's delusion!" he said.

For the Six Venerable Martyrs
The six men lived together as ascetics,
And together they died by the sword as Champions.

Verses for October 25

In ecstasy Varus cut off the heads,
Of rulingdemons by his own beheading.

By St. Dimitri of Rostov

During the reign of the impious Maximian, the Emperor of the Romans, there lived in Egypt a brave soldier named Varus, who secretly served the King of Heaven. Out of fear he hid his faith in the true God for a time, but later, he revealed it before both heaven and earth and became a spectacle before angels and men.

A Bone in the Throat Made Him a Christian

Deacon Dionysios Firfiris (+ 1912-1990) with  Monk Kosmas (+ 2005) posing before the White Tower in Thessaloniki.

Deacon Dionysios Firfiris narrated the following:

Once, I was in Thessaloniki for business purposes. I went to a restaurant to eat. After saying a prayer I sat and ate. Next to me was a group of friends. A certain layman among them said to me:

"Well, what are you pretending for us now? What do you want to show us?"

"Well brother," I answered a little angrily, "I want to prevent a bone getting stuck in my throat."

October 16, 2015

The Crazy Monk

By Nicholas Voinescu

There was a certain crazy monk in a monastery. Not that he was really crazy, but others considered him crazy in whatever he said or did. One night the abbot of the monastery called for him and asked him how his day went and what he did in its duration. And the monk replied:

"I had many jobs, holy abbot, like the other days, and if Almighty God didn't help me, my little strength would not be enough to cope with all these jobs."

"But what did you do, what issues preoccupied you?" asked the puzzled elder abbot to his monk.

The Sense of God's Presence

By Nicholas Voinescu

The late Metropolitan Theologos Paschalides of Larisa, who reposed in voluntary poverty, like Saint Nektarios, had told us that his father always had in his shirt pocket a piece of paper that read: "The sense of God's presence." This sense or awareness of the omnipresence of God and the thought that God sees me wherever I am is, according to the late Father Athanasios Mytilinaios, of great importance for our lives.

First of all, when I'm aware that God sees me, I don't sin. Of course, I'm not sinless, but I'm careful not to sadden God with my heavy sins, especially the sins of the flesh. Let us remember here the very instructive example of Joseph the All-Comely, whose corrupt mistress tried to seduce him to sin, but he turned away from sinning by saying: "How can I do such an evil deed before God and sin?"

October 15, 2015

Old Man Makarios of Kapsala, the Drunk Hesychast

By Athanasios Rakovalis

All monks are not the same, nor are all athletes or doctors or anyone else. Some make progress and become distinguished while others are mediocre, some excel while others fail in their purpose. However, they all have their place in life, and God's criteria for them may be different than ours ... much different.

In God's eyes poor Lazarus was successful, who lived life as a beggar, and not the foolish Rich Man, with his many riches and worldly "success". In God's eyes the sinful Publican was successful, who was devastated by the sins he actually committed, and dared not to lift his eyes to heaven, but merely begged God humbly: "God be merciful to me, a sinner." In God's eyes the Pharisee was unsuccessful, who although was religious and kept God's commandments, yet his soul was inflated with pride and considered himself superior to the Publican and others. God abhorred him.

We must therefore be careful with things. Let us not judge what we see. For what happens in the depth of the human heart we cannot see. Therefore, "let us stand well, let us stand with fear." I came to know of the existence of Elder Makarios by hearing him. One evening I heard him yelling.

Saint Euthymios the New of Peristera Monastery (+ 898)

St. Euthymios the New (Feast Day - October 15 and January 4)


For October 15.*

Cheerfully you inhabited the land Father,
You thus bore the name, as is right blessed one. 

For January 4.**

Euthymios labored in asceticism cheerfully,
And cheerfully he went to the mansions of good cheer.

Our Holy God-bearing Father Euthymios was born in the reign of the iconoclast Emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) in a village near Ancyra (Ankara) in Galatia. He was named Niketas at Baptism and, since his father died when he was seven, was brought up in the Orthodox faith and to venerate the holy icons by his pious mother. In early manhood, he served in the army for a while and then, at the entreaty of his mother, agreed to marry the daughter of a rich and pious family of those parts, with whom he had a little girl named Anastaso. But, since childhood, Niketas had fervently desired to set out upon the strait and narrow way that leads to the Kingdom of God by becoming a monk.

October 14, 2015

Life and Spiritual Counsels of Saint Pachomios of Chios (+ 1905)

St. Pachomios of Chios (Feast Day - October 14)

St. Pachomios was born in 1840 on the island of Chios in the village of Elaia. His birth name was Panagiotis Arelias, and having been born in the wake of the great massacre by the Turks of the Greek population of Chios in 1822, many residents remained miserable and impoverished, seeking a better life in Constantinople, which was then a center of commerce.

In Constantinople, the young Panagiotis one day found himself held in prison by the Turks for murdering a Turkish rival, although he was on the defensive. During the endless hours of despair and remorse in prison, and in fear of being put to death, terrified Panagiotis found refuge and comfort in his Orthodox faith. There he continuously prayed to the Theotokos to release him from the death penalty and imprisonment to live a life of repentance.

Saint Ignatios Agallianos, Metropolitan of Mithymna, the Wonderworker (+ 1566)

St. Ignatios the Wonderworker (Feast Day - October 14);
(This icon was probably painted in his lifetime.)

Saint Ignatios, who before becoming a monk was known as John Agallianos, was one of the most important figures in 16th century Lesvos. Information about his life is not entirely clear. It seems, however, that he was born around 1480 in the village of Farangas in Kalloni. He was a descendent of the Agallianos family from Constantinople, and both his grandfather George and father Manuel were priests.

Being the child of a priest, he also served the village of Farangos as the village priest. From a young age he acquired an education and desired to live a monastic life, but he obeyed the will of his father and married a pious woman named Maria prior to his ordination. Having raised children with his wife, he also occupied himself with copying manuscripts. Shortly after his wife and children died during an epidemic, except one child whose name was Methodios, so he decided to live as an ascetic.

October 13, 2015

The Core Theological Message of St. Symeon the New Theologian

By George Martzelos

It is clear that the experience of the vision of God, as it is experienced in the vision of divine light, is for Symeon the ultimate criterion and the cornerstone of Orthodox theology and spirituality. For him, without the vision of God there is no Orthodox theology nor true spiritual life, and therefore the Church cannot exist nor fulfill its mission. Because for him, as well as the entire patristic tradition, Orthodox theology and spirituality is not contemplative nor intellectual, but it is eminently empirical and existential in character which is based on the personal experience of the vision of God within the ecclesiastical body. It is a transcendental and ecstatic experience, organically associated with the most important mysteries of the Church - the mysteries of Baptism, Repentance and the Divine Eucharist - and it is otherwise not experienced except through the fruit of purification, illumination and secret communion with Christ in the light of the Holy Spirit. In this light Christ appears as light and reveals to believers His heavenly Father, making them partakers and shareholders of the glory of His divinity and are given the position of being gods by grace. In other words, when developing his teaching of the vision of God, the theology of Symeon is not unilaterally Christocentric, but simultaneously Pneumatocentric and Triadocentric.

Holy Hieromartyr Jacob of Hamatoura

St. Jacob of Hamatoura (Feast Day - October 13 and July 3)

The rock-cut Hamatoura Monastery in Kousba, Lebanon is a Greek Orthodox Monastery, belonging to the Patriarchate of Antioch, and its one of the oldest in the country. The Monastery is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, but it is more widely know as Hamatoura Monastery, which is the name of the mountain the Monastery is built in.

Late in the 13th century, at the Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos on Hamatoura, Saint Jacob began his ascetic life. Later, when the Monastery was destroyed by the Mamelukes,* he reestablished monasticism along the perimeter of the ruined Monastery. In time, he rebuilt the Monastery, regenerating and giving renewed vigor to monastic life in the area. His spiritual briskness, vivacity, and popularity among believers drew the attention of the Mamelukes who set their minds to stop his enthusiasm and determination and force him to convert to Islam. He adamantly refused their relentless pressures.

Saint Florentios the Martyr of Thessaloniki

St. Florentios the Martyr (Feast Day - October 13)


O uniquely courageous Martyr Florentios,
You ran towards the flame as if it were refreshing water.

The Holy Martyr Florentios was from the city of Thessaloniki, and because he was a Christian who was zealous for the faith and virtue, he insulted and blasphemed against all the gods of the Greeks, and supported the Christians in their faith in Christ, guiding them to cultivate the virtues and keep the commandments of Christ.

October 12, 2015

Two Introductory Books on Modern Orthodox Spirituality Recommended by Fr. John Romanides

By Fr. John Romanides

(From a classroom lecture to his students in Thessaloniki)

Someone who does not understand about illumination and glorification, even if he is a theologian or a university professor and reads, will say "Forget it! Don't waste your time on those superstitions and myths..." If this were so, then that's the end of Holy Scripture as well, and Moses is completely worthless.

But we have living people who are like this. There are such people alive, who have noetic prayer and attain to divine vision, and these experiences are realities. But in order to know that they are realities one has to go and search out these people. If such people do not exist and this tradition has disappeared, a science has disappeared.

If today doctors disappeared and only their books remained, and we read them without having the living tradition of medicine, it would not be possible to revive medical science as it is now. The same would apply to all the sciences, if the living tradition were lost. So in the case of Orthodoxy too, if the living tradition were to disappear, Orthodoxy would be forgotten. As in the West the tradition vanished and it was forgotten.

Saint Theosebios of Arsinoe in Cyprus

St. Theosebios of Arsinoe (Feast Day - October 12)

Saint Theosebios was born in the poor village of Melandra in the subdistrict of Arsinoe (present day Polis Chysochous) in the province of Paphos. Today the village is Turkish Cypriot, but during those days it was Greco-Roman and Christian. Saint Theosebios was the brother according to the flesh of Saint Arkadios, Bishop of Arsinoe (Aug. 29). The exact date of his birth is unknown. However, it should be placed at the end of the fourth century since his brother Arkadios was Bishop of Arsinoe in the early fifth century. Their pious parents, Michael and Anna, raised them in the education and admonition of the Lord.

Saint Domnina of Anazarbus

St. Domnina the Martyr (Feast Day - October 12)


Domnina's limbs and all her joints,
Did not deny the true faith.

Domnina lived during the reign of Diocletian (284-305). In 286, when Domnina was made to stand before Governor Lysias of Anazarbus (modern Anavarza, Turkey), she confessed Christ. Therefore, they thrashed her with raw bullwhips and burned her feet with fired iron implements. After beating her with rods, they broke her bones, dislocated her joints, and then cast her into jail. Thus, after much suffering, the martyr Domnina surrendered her holy soul into the hands of God.

October 11, 2015

Holy Apostle Philip of the Seventy, One of the Seven Deacons

St. Philip the Deacon (Feast Day - October 11)


Truly serving as a deacon on earth,
In the heavens Philip you receive a reward.
Philip the liturgist received his reward on the eleventh.

Saint Philip was born in Caesarea of Palestine. He was married and had four daughters (Sept. 4), who consecrated their virginity to God and were given the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:8). He became one of the Seventy Apostles of Christ, and after Pentecost he was chosen by the Twelve Disciples to serve the needs of the Church of Jerusalem as one of its Seven Deacons. As a deacon, he served at the meals of the faithful and took care of the poor and the widows.

October 10, 2015

Saint Dionysios the Philosopher (+ 1611)

St. Dionysios the Philosopher (Feast Day - October 10)

Dionysios was born in 1541 in Paramythia, Thesprotia. He was of Greek descent, from Macedonia (specifically the Avdella, Grevena regional unit) with Epirotian parentage. At a very young age, Dionysios became a monk at the Monastery of Saint Demetrios in Dichouni, which at that time had 18 dependencies and much property.

At age 15, he went to Venice and Padua where he studied medicine, philosophy and philology. In 1582 he went to live in Constantinople, where he continued his studies in logic, astronomy, grammar and poetry until he was 39 years old. Because of his vast education and his knowledge of seven languages, Dionysios came to be known as "the Philosopher". In 1592 he was elected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to be Metropolitan of Larissa and Trikke (today's Trikala).

Saints Eulampios and Eulampia the Siblings

Sts. Eulampios and Eulampia (Feast Day - October 10)


For Sts. Eulampios and Eulampia
Eulampia anticipated beheading.
Eulampios was beheaded and together they received crowns.
On the tenth Eulampios was beheaded with his sister.

For the Two Hundred Martyrs
Fifty men fourfold,
Were killed by the sword, O divine ending!

Eulampios and Eulampia were brother and sister from Nicomedia. During one of the terrible persecutions of Christians by Emperor Maximian some of the faithful fled Nicomedia and hid in the mountains, and among them were the two siblings. One day the young Eulampios was sent into the city to buy bread. There he saw the imperial edict decreeing the persecution of Christians posted on a wall. He laughed at it, removed it, and tore it up. He was arrested and immediately brought before Maximus the governor.

October 9, 2015

A Cry of Anguish from the Orthodox Community of Syria

Even the priests are leaving the country - only 1,900 families are left.

Maria Antoniadou
October 3, 2015

Even priests are now leaving Syria in an effort to protect their children and grandchildren.

In the region of Aleppo, near the border with Turkey, in 2010 there were living 75,000 Orthodox Christian families. In 2013 their number was reduced by fifty thousand. Today, according to the most optimistic estimates, there are no more than 1,900 families. And of the 20 priests that shepherded the city and villages around Aleppo, today there remain only 2.