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!
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April 30, 2016

Christ's Divine Strategy in Defeating the Devil (St. Gregory Palamas)

By St. Gregory Palamas

The pre-eternal, uncircumscribed and almighty Logos and omnipotent Son of God could clearly have saved man from mortality and servitude to the devil without Himself becoming man.

He upholds all things by the word of His power and everything is subject to His divine authority (cf. Heb. 1:3). According to Job, He can do everything and nothing is impossible for Him (cf. Job 42:2 LXX).

The strength of a created being cannot withstand the power of the Creator, and nothing is more powerful than the Almighty.

But the incarnation of the Logos of God was the method of deliverance most in keeping with our nature and weakness, and most appropriate for Him who carried it out, for this method had justice on its side, and God does not act without justice.

The Magnificent Illumination of Santorini for Great Friday (photos + videos)

One of the most beautiful places to be in all of Greece for Holy and Great Friday evening for the funeral procession with the Epitaphios is the village of Pyrgos on the island of Santorini. This event attracts visitors from all over the world. The old castle and the entire village is lit up with canisters which create a dramatic and highly devout and solemn experience for the visitor.

A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2016

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. From Jerusalem it will be distributed throughout the world.

On the Lord's Passion, Death and Descent into Hades (St. John of Damascus)

An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith

By St. John of Damascus

Book 3

Chapter 25. Concerning the Appropriation.

It is to be observed that there are two appropriations: one that is natural and essential, and one that is personal and relative. The natural and essential one is that by which our Lord in His love for man took on Himself our nature and all our natural attributes, becoming in nature and truth man, and making trial of that which is natural: but the personal and relative appropriation is when any one assumes the person of another relatively, for instance, out of pity or love, and in his place utters words concerning him that have no connection with himself. And it was in this way that our Lord appropriated both our curse and our desertion, and such other things as are not natural: not that He Himself was or became such, but that He took upon Himself our personality and ranked Himself as one of us. Such is the meaning in which this phrase is to be taken: "Being made a curse for our sakes" (Gal. 3:15).

April 29, 2016

Christ and the Binding of the Strong Man (Origen of Alexandria)

By Origen of Alexandria

Christ has presented each Christian with the death of sin itself, a gift of faith, as it were, deriving from His own death. Sin can have no more freedom of action in people who believe themselves to be dead, crucified and buried with Christ, than in those who have suffered bodily death. They are therefore said to be dead to sin. This is why the Apostle says, "If we have died with Him, we believe we shall also live with Him." It is important to note the difference of expression: Paul does not say "we have lived" as he said "we have died," but "we shall live." This is his way of showing that death is at work in the present world, but not in the life to come, "when Christ is revealed. He is our life, hidden away in God." For the time being, therefore, as Paul himself teaches, "death is at work in us."

The Death of Christ, A New Pathway to Life (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen clothes with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. At the place where He had been crucified there was a garden, and in this garden a new tomb in which no one had been buried.

Christ was numbered among the dead. For our sake He was put to death in the body, even though of Himself and through His Father we believe Him to be, and indeed He is, life itself. In order to do all that was required by God, all that was involved in His having become man, He freely submitted the temple of His body not only to death, but to everything that accompanies it, to the laying out of His body and its burial in a tomb.

The Trilogy of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ

By Metropolitan Daniel of Kaisariani, Vyronas and Hymettus

We find ourselves before the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Church invites us to venerate the revered Passion of our Redeemer and Savior, and considering the cause, to pursue the reasons why it took place and why it was necessary.

We take recourse to the divinely-inspired Scriptures, which informs us that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered, was sacrificed and died for the following reasons:

To Whom Was the Blood of Christ Offered? (St. Gregory the Theologian)

By St. Gregory the Theologian

(Excerpt from "On Holy Pascha", Homily 45)

Now we are to examine another fact and dogma, neglected by most people, but in my judgment well worth inquiring into. To whom was that Blood offered that was shed for us, and why was it shed? I mean the precious and renowned Blood of our God and High Priest and Sacrifice. We were detained in bondage by the Evil One, sold under sin, and receiving pleasure in exchange for wickedness. Now, since a ransom belongs only to him who holds in bondage, I ask to whom was this offered, and for what cause?

April 28, 2016

The Last Two Days of Holy Week With Saint Paisios the Athonite

A nun told Elder Paisios the following:

"Elder, on the night of Holy Thursday, after the Service of the Passion, I do not remain in the church."

"Too bad, and I thought you had a little reverence! So none of you remain in the church on the night of Great Thursday? You leave the Crucified One alone and go off to your cells?"

King of the Jews or King of Glory?

By John Sanidopoulos

When the Lord delivered the people of Israel from bondage in Egypt through the leadership of Moses, and led them into the Promised Land through the leadership of Joshua, it became customary after that for many generations to have leaders or judges over the tribes of Israel, who were also prophets, but never a king, for God alone was the King of the Jews, His chosen people, and He asked for nothing but their faithfulness, and in return He would make them victorious over their enemies and make them prosper in their new land. But in the days of the Prophet Samuel, the last judge of Israel, the people of Israel no longer wanted the Lord as their king, but they wanted to be like all the other nations, with a man as their king to lead them. When the Prophet Samuel brought their request before the Lord, He replied: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights" (1 Sam. 8:7-9). The Lord respected the choice of the people, but also warned them of the negative side effects of having a mortal man as their king over Himself. And when the people insisted on indeed having a king like all the nations, then the Prophet Samuel appointed for them a man named Saul, who went on to turn against the Lord in disobedience, and fall defeated by his enemies.

Holy Thursday Eucharistic Epistle Reading Chanted in Plagal of the Second

The following recording is the Eucharistic Epistle Reading of Holy Thursday morning from 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 chanted in the original Greek by Grigoris Kakouris in Plagal of the Second Tone, with clarinet done by Theodoros Kouraklis.

The Holy Altar Today Becomes the Upper Room

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

Great Thursday. On such a shocking day with the help and guidance of the Holy Fathers of the Church "we approach within the worship of the Church the secret and fearsome table ... and we cleanse our souls by taking the bread."

A. This is not a formal repetition of the supper, but a mysterious extension of the event. What happened then in the upper room, is now taking place on the Holy Altar. Back then they had Christ, and now we have Christ.

As Saint John Chrysostom said: "Believe that there is no difference between that secret supper and this mystery. Because a man does not do this one and Christ that one, but He also offers this one. He who did what was done then, does what is done now."

April 27, 2016

St. John Climacus on the Love of Money (or Avarice)

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

By St. John Climacus

Step 16

On Love of Money (or Avarice)

1. Many learned teachers treat next, after the tyrant just described, the thousand-headed demon of avarice. We, unlearned as we are, did not wish to change the order of the learned, and we have therefore followed the same convention and rule. So let us first say a little about the disease, and then speak briefly about the remedy.

2. Avarice, or love of money, is the worship of idols, a daughter of unbelief, an excuse for infirmities, a foreboder of old age, a harbinger of drought, a herald of hunger.

On the Blessed Tears of Repentance (Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria)

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

In the Orthodox Temples of our Holy Church the inspired hymns of the sacred hymnographers for Matins of Holy and Great Wednesday are melodiously chanted, which deliver us over to the waves of devotion that especially bring nostalgia to the human soul.

With what did the sinful woman occupy herself, who every Holy Wednesday we remember at the suggestion of our God-bearing Fathers?

It was the slavery to sin, darkness, which unfolds in the soul and does not give it the ability to see the face of God.

Those experienced in the spiritual life call this state an unnatural situation, simply because people were created to see the face of God.

Therefore, when the human nous is darkened by the presence of sin, it loses this ability and obliterates the purpose for which God the Creator made us.

Thus, in despair, they seek to be released from the sensible things and idols that encircle them which their nous is attached to, in order to see the unwaning light of Christ.

Sin was the problem of this woman. And her departure from this state was heroic.

1. This woman had the courage to arrive at the house of Simon the Pharisee, and she overcame herself, her shame before the presence of so many invited guests to ask for the forgiveness of her sins from the Physician of souls and bodies.

2. This woman had something very expensive. It was not only myrrh which she anointed the feet of Christ with, "which she wiped away with her hair and lips, frequently kissing them" (Troparion of the 7th Ode from the Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, for Great Compline on Holy Tuesday), but especially with her tears.

It is a timeless sign of repentance and humility of humanity before God. With this is accomplished the embrace of God with humanity. A characteristic example is Hezekiah, who with "bitter weeping" received the response of the compassionate God: "I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life" (Is. 38:3-5). And the Prophet David records in the Psalms his own experience of redemptive tears: "I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes" (Ps. 6:6-7).

The tears were those of the restored fallen disciple Peter after his terrible triple denial of Christ before the child on the night of betrayal: "And he went outside and wept bitterly" (Lk. 22:62; Matt. 26:75).

This is why the Fathers of the Church say that tears are the result of the fall of man. "Cutting off and ceasing from sin, the tears of the eyes are no longer needed, for when illness doesn't exist there is no need for medicine" (Arch. Nikitas Voutitas, Πατερικές Εμπειρίες, εκδ. ΖΩΗ 1992, pp. 66-67).

Saint John Climacus describes the tears of repentance as greater than Baptism, since it cleanses us of sins which we commit after it. "If God did not give people tears of repentance rare indeed and difficult it would be to be saved. If still tears cannot run from your eyes due to our natural hardness, at least let there not be missing bitter contrition" (Ibid.).

3. The fountains from which our tears run from our eyes in moments of repentance and contrition do not lead us to psychopathological states, as some claim today, but they offer us spiritual ascents and spiritual states of grace, such as those we encounter in the texts of the Holy Fathers of the Church.

These tears accompanied the lives of our Saints.

These tears were the only companion in the life of Saint Sophia of Kleisoura.

These tears venerably adorned the figure of Saint Paisios the Athonite as well as all the Saints of our Church.

"O power of tears, in that you boldly are able to bring many even to heaven. O power of tears, you receive from God all your requests, because they seize gladness and bring forgiveness," exclaims full of solemn wonder Ephraim the Syrian, whose eyes had become endless fountains of tears.

These tears give us the remission of sins.

These tears gift us with the sweetness of mercy.

These tears console us in the time of our fall.

These tears prepare us for repentance.

These tears present us before the Throne of God and plead for our salvation.

This is what the sinful woman offered, along with the humble gift, "she who was in despair for her life, with her ways well known," shortly before the Passion of the Savior Christ.

We, who sin daily, do we offer the fountains of these tears as a sign of our repentance?

This is why tonight, together with the poetess Kassiani, let us speak to Him who is going to His voluntary Passion, even the Master Christ, saying: "Receive the fountains of my tears, You, who gathers into clouds the waters of the sea. Incline to the groanings of my heart, You, who in Your ineffable condescension bowed down the heavens."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

April 26, 2016

The Woman Who Anointed Christ's Feet With Myrrh

By Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetriados

Tonight we will experience a night fragrant with myrrh, the myrrh of tears of a repentant soul.

In the alabaster of myrrh of the sinful woman, is mixed today the tears of human repentance and the forgiveness of divine love.

On this Holy Tuesday night our Church presents us with a model of repentance in this sinful woman, who anointed the feet of the Lord with myrrh.

April 25, 2016

The Spiritual Ladder of Holy Week

By Fr. George Economou

Eighteen weeks, or more than one third of the annual cycle, is the ecclesiastical liturgical cycle that revolves around the celebration of the Resurrection.

This is from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee until the Sunday of All Saints. It is a liturgical journey rich in religious and spiritual experiences.

It is a sweet joyful-sorrow. Grief according to God which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection.

And, as in all the liturgical traditions of our Holy Church, so also with this festal cycle, the wisdom of our Holy Fathers who set it in order is revealed.

The Garment of Adam and the Garment of Joseph

By John Sanidopoulos

Genesis begins with the account of the creation of the first-formed Adam and Eve, and records their disobedience to God by eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the Lord confronted them regarding their disobedience, and gave them an opportunity for repentance, they refused to put the blame on themselves, incurring a curse from God and banishment from the Garden of Eden. As they were being banished, we read in Genesis 3:21: "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." No longer were Adam and Eve "clothed" in the uncreated light of God and thus protected from the elements, but their disobedience made them realize their purity was gone and they were left naked and exposed to the elements. God, however, in His goodness, provided for them with lowly earthly garments made of animal skin. Just as someone who enjoys special favor from the king is clothed in royal and expensive garments, but after some sort of disobedience or betrayal is stripped of such garments and made to look like a slave, so also were Adam and Eve. Their clothing, from now on, was to be a constant reminder of their disobedience and the loss of their purity.

Why Did Christ Curse the Fig Tree?

By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakogiannis, Ph. D

In the Service of Matins for Great Monday (chanted in the evening of Palm Sunday), among other things, we hear in the Gospel reading as well as the hymns, about the miracle of the withered fig tree.

And we certainly ask ourselves: "What does this event have to do with Great Monday?" And of course it is relevant, because it took place on the Monday before the Passion.

Cross in a Church in West Ukraine Starts Bleeding (photos)

April 22, 2016

A wooden altar cross started bleeding in St. Yekaterina Orthodox Church in the town of Zdolbunov in the Rovno Region of Ukraine.

"After the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, when I took a cross for proclaiming the closing prayer, a dark spot was discovered near the left eye of Christ the Savior, its color looked like human blood. Looking closer, we saw a flow of blood. To examine the blood we made several enlarged photographs. When we looked at them, we saw two, not one, flows running from the eyes of the Savior," the priest Fr. Alexander was quoted as saying by the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

April 24, 2016

The Triumphant Entry (Dr. Haralambos Bousias)

By Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias,
Great Hymnographer of the Alexandrian Church

Triumph presupposes victory and victory a legitimate struggle and difficult battle. The crowned victor lauded by the crowds enters his homeland triumphantly through arches erected for his welcome.

In spiritual battles, which are much tougher than the worldly, military, local and national ones, since the opponent is relentless, tenacious and ferocious, the victor is accompanied by the eternal Victor, He Who told us "without Me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5), and is praised by the Holy Angels as he enters the heavenly places.

In order for Christ to enter Jerusalem triumphantly it had to be preceded by the resurrection of Lazarus. By this the God-man showed His divine hypostasis and his sovereignty over the living and the dead.

Palm Sunday, the Deadly Epidemic of 1630, and the Miracle of Saint Spyridon

Palm Sunday, the great feast of Christianity, in Kerkyra is celebrated together with the commemoration of the miracle of Saint Spyridon, whereby the Saint saved the residents of the island from a deadly epidemic of the plague in 1630.

Every year on this day, after the Divine Liturgy, as a sign of remembrance and in honor of Saint Spyridon, a long procession takes place throughout the old town of Kerkyra, and a prayer of entreaty is read on the spot where stood the old walls of the city and the non-preserved Church of Saint Athanasios the Great.

Where Do the Millions of Palms Come From?

Adelaide Mena
March 16, 2016

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem the week before his passion and crucifixion. The Gospels attest that as Jesus entered the city, crowds lay down palm branches and cloaks as he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey.

For centuries, Christians have commemorated the feast day that begins Holy Week by waving branches of either palm or another local tree, as well as with liturgical processions and other celebrations.

In the U.S. alone, nearly 18,000 Catholic parishes will celebrate Palm Sunday by blessing and distributing palm branches to the faithful. That makes millions of palm leaves each year – and that doesn’t include all of the Protestant [and Orthodox] churches that observe the tradition.

Where do all those palms come from?

Homily for Palm Sunday (St. Gregory Palamas)

The sermon below (Homily 15) was delivered by St. Gregory Palamas on Palm Sunday of a year between 1347 and 1359, in a church in the city of Thessaloniki.

“In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee,” said God through Isaiah (Isaiah 49.8). It is good today to speak these words of the apostle to your charity: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6.2). “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us work the works of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day” (Romans 13.12-13). The commemoration of Christ’s saving passion is at hand, and the new, great spiritual Passover, which is the reward for dispassion and the prelude of the world to come. Lazarus proclaims it in advance by coming back from the depths of Hades and rising from the dead on the fourth day just by the voice and command of God, who has power over life and death (John 11.1-45). By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, children and simple people sing praises in advance to the Redeemer from death, who brings souls up from Hades and gives souls and bodies eternal life.

April 23, 2016

"Lazarus, Come Forth!" (A Despotic Voice, A Royal Shout, A Powerful Command)

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

Referring to the miraculous event of the resurrection of the close friend of Christ, Saint Lazarus of the Four Days, Saint Andrew the Bishop of Crete says in a homily: "The righteous Lazarus prepares a dinner table and invites the lovers of good works and lovers of spectacles and those who participate by imitation in the Passion of Christ to spiritual feasting."1

It is worth attending this spiritual feast and enjoying the teachings of this God-bearing Father of the Church regarding the righteous Lazarus, especially how he interprets the despotic words of Christ: "Lazarus, come forth,"2 as recorded by John the Evangelist.

Holy New Martyr Lazarus the Shepherd of Bulgaria (+ 1802)

St. Lazarus the Shepherd (Feast Day - April 23)

Lazarus was from Gabrovo, Bulgaria and he was born to parents who were pious and God-loving people in the year 1774. At a young age he departed Gabrovo and came to Soma in Asia Minor, near Pergamon, where he became a shepherd.

One day while tending his sheep in the fields, he sat down and fell asleep. During this time a Muslim lady went by who was attacked by the sheep dog. Awakened by the dog's barking, Lazarus rushed to the lady's rescue. Fortunately the dog calmed down and the lady only suffered a torn dress. However, this infuriated the lady, who immediately went home and told her husband that she was attacked by an Orthodox Christian shepherd who attempted to rape her. This infuriated the husband, who went out in search of Lazarus, but not knowing him he mistook another man for Lazarus, whom he almost beat to death. To cover up his mistake, the husband had his wife's relatives go before the Turkish judge to charge Lazarus with attempted rape.

The House of Lazarus (Christocentric Experiences of a Hermit)

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

They laid out a dinner with Lazarus beside You, my God and my Lord, You Who are the Resurrection and the Life.

Who could see You there and not be inflamed with wonder, love, gratitude and glorification?

And what would You have supposedly said when Mary, in a divine frenzy and outburst of thanksgiving, whose four-day dead brother You raised, "took about a pinta of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair."

What would You have said, my Jesus, since You were made silent by the evangelist?

April 22, 2016

The Amazing Miracles of Hatzi Ananias of Malles, Crete

By Archimandrite Ioannikios Androulakis

A nun who was then in the Holy Monastery of Kapsa told me about the first miracle of Hatzi Ananias in Kapsa when he was young and responded to the name Anthony. The name of the nun was Eusevia Panagiotakis. This nun described to me the miracle as follows:

"At that time they built a furnace made of asbestos for the needs of the monastery. The furnace burned for three days and nights. Gerontogiannis called for the novice Anthony:

A Reflection for the End of Great Lent

By John Sanidopoulos

Great Lent should be a time of increased spiritual awareness and struggle. We pray more, we fast more, we attend church services more, we study the divine writings more, and so forth. But sometimes Great Lent could bring on other struggles, that only become spiritually profitable if we place them in the right spiritual perspective.

Though I began this Great Lent in the above mentioned ways, praying and fasting more and attending more church services, things took a slight turn for me about three weeks ago. It all began after I had to have one of my wisdom teeth extracted because it broke, and to prevent an infection I was placed on an antibiotic for seven days. Towards the end I began to feel cramps in my stomach continuously for four days, so I began to take a probiotic. A few days after I completed the antibiotic I noticed rashes spreading throughout my body, especially my legs.

April 21, 2016

A Monastery of Five Widows and a Buddhist Who Became Orthodox

Holy Monastery of Saints Marina and Raphael in Xylotymbou

By K. Triantaphylou

From my five-day stay in Cyprus I will record due to brevity only what lessons I learned at the Holy Monastery of Saint Marina and Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene in Xylotymbou of the Holy Metropolis of Kition. The spiritual father, serving priest and founder of this Monastery was Protopresbyter Kyriakos Panagiotou, who among other things has a sweet voice. Because of his sweet voice, the late Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus had him ordained as his deacon, but he refused, saying he preferred to serve as a priest in his village.

A Christian Without Church Attendance...

"A Christian without church attendance, without prayer, without confession, without Holy Communion is an unfenced vineyard, where at any moment the door is open for thieves to come in, namely the demons, to thrash it."

- Elder Haralambos Dionysiatis

April 20, 2016

Saint Theodore the Trichinas ("Hair-Shirt Wearer")

St. Theodore Trichinas (Feast Day - April 20)


You have died, having weaved a garment of hair Father,
The founder of those dressed in leaves.
On the twentieth, Theodore, your bones went without your courageous spirit.

Our Venerable Father Theodore was born in Constantinople in the fourth century, the son of wealthy and pious parents. From childhood he was inclined toward monasticism, so he left his home, family, and former life in order to enter a monastery in Thrace, later known as the Monastery of Trichinas after him. There he began his arduous ascetic struggles. In the winter he exposed himself to the cold and in the summer he exposed himself to the heat. He dressed in a hair-shirt, from which he derived the name “Trichinas” ("Hair-Shirt Wearer”). He even slept on a stone in order avoid bodily comfort, and to prevent himself from sleeping too much.

Saint John of Old Lavra

St. John of Old Lavra (Feast Day - April 20)


The Old Lavraite has a new gain,
John rejoices having found intelligent beings.

It is unknown when our Holy Father John lived or where he came from, but from a young age he was consumed with love for Christ and lived a virtuous life, longing to dedicate his life to God. He withdrew from his homeland and family and took up the Cross of the Lord in a foreign land, in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born in a foreign land and lived in exile.

April 19, 2016

The Great Preacher

By Fr. Ephraim

Once an older priest went up to a remote village in order to comfort and support the weary. The village was perched on a cliff, a living painting, and there was a small church in the middle next to the fairytale-like stone houses. Behind the sanctuary of the church was the cemetery of the village with the oil lamps constantly lit uniting yesterday and today.

The old priest struck the bells of the church and the few villagers gathered to hear his comforting words, since their parts were at a distance and doomed to loneliness. Before the elder began to speak, the eyes of the villagers sparkled.

Saint Paphnutios of Jerusalem as a Model for our Lives

St. Paphnutios of Jerusalem (Feast Day - September 25)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Paphnutios came from Jerusalem and lived during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. During the fierce persecution of the Church the prefect Arianos sent soldiers to the Egyptian desert, where Saint Paphnutios lived in asceticism, in order to arrest him. When he heard they were looking for him, he went into the city and presented himself before the prefect, who ordered that he be fiercely tortured. Two soldiers tore at his flesh so much that his entrails showed. The Saint, who did not cease praying, was immediately healed as if nothing happened. The soldiers, obviously overwhelmed by the miracle, believed in Christ, which led to their beheading, and thus they were numbered among the chorus of martyrs.

April 18, 2016

A Nearly Ruined Chapel of Saint Mary of Egypt in Crete

Between the villages of Perivolia and Vathi in Crete, is an abandoned and long-forgotten chapel which according to tradition was dedicated to Saint Mary of Egypt.

Saint Athanasia of Aegina the Wonderworker


To the noblest Athanasia I offer,
The immortal crown according to My word.

Saint Athanasia was born in Paliachora, Aegina from pious and wealthy parents in the ninth century and had a strong calling towards monastic life. Her parents however, Niketas and Irene, married her off against her will. Sixteen days after the marriage, her husband was killed by Saracen pirates, who had invaded Aegina.

Being widowed, the Saint considered it appropriate to fulfill her sacred desire for the monastic life. And while this thought occupied her, a Saracen decree went out through all of Aegina that all unmarried women and widows were to marry idolatrous Saracen men. So Athanasia, against her will, entered a second marriage.

April 16, 2016

Love as the Essence of Asceticism in Orthodoxy

By Protopresbyter George Schoinas

In the midst of Great Lent, our Church raises before us the figure of a great ascetic and author of the Church, Saint John of Sinai.

He is the author of the Ladder, an ascetic book addressed mainly to monastics, and in proportion it is for each struggling Christian, because it describes the passions and each of their corresponding virtues, so that in the journey of this world we will reach the perfection of virtue.

To reach love and to reach dispassion. But because many times we take certain things for granted, I would like to talk about the obvious.

Holy New Martyr Christopher of Dionysiou (+ 1818)

St. Christopher of Dionysiou (Feast Day - April 16 and Bright Tuesday)

The Saint was baptized as a child with the name Christodoulos ("servant of Christ") by his pious parents, and was from Adrianople in Thrace. He was a meek, quiet and well-disposed man, very devout and a fervent Christian.

Christodoulos would become saddened when he heard Christians would become Islamized and he tried in every way to prevent it. But that which saddened him with others, happened also to himself. How did this take place?

April 15, 2016

The Music of the Akathist Hymn

Madrid, Escorial, Codex P.I. 19, p. 26. "Akathist Hymn", end of 14th or beginning of 15th cent.

The Akathist Hymn is a shining monument of early Byzantine hymnography. It is a kontakion with an alphabetical acrostic, which is entirely used still today, preserving a centuries-old worship practice.

Morphologically it is worth noting that the kontakion of the Akathist differs from the traditional form of the kontakion. The oikoi are not all alike, as there are an uneven number (Α, Γ, Ε), which are more far-reaching, and contain the known greetings which end with the short hymn "Rejoice, Bride unwedded". Conversely the oikoi with uneven numbers (Β, Δ, Ζ) are shorter and end with the short hymn "Hallelujah". This is an indication that shows the kontakion of the Akathist does not belong to the peak period of the kontakia, but possibly closer to the emergence of the poetic genre, the canon (800's), and the various forms that distinguishes it.

Akathist to the Theotokos Resource Page

Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.
 About the Akathist and Salutations 
The Theotokos and the Akathist 
The Canon 

The Salutations 
Other Feasts on the Saturday of the Akathist Hymn 

April 14, 2016

Joyful Sorrow and its Secret Fruits (Photios Kontoglou)

By Photios Kontoglou

Among the saints who felt joyful sorrow and wrote about it, is Saint Symeon, the so-called New Theologian.

This Saint was very tormented and pained, and shed many tears in his life. He was born a thousand years after Christ, in a village of Paphlagonia, which is a place in Asia Minor near the Black Sea. From a young age he loved religious life.

His parents sent him to Constantinople, because he had an uncle there who was a man of the palace, and he sent him to school to study to bring him to the palace. But Symeon did not want to learn many things, because he thought it unnecessary.

He associated with monastics and pious people, and this association was his joy.

Alexandros Papadiamantis and the Great Canon

By George D. Tsimbanoulis

A street of the district of Rachi in Portaria has been given the name of Alexandros Papadiamantis.

Papadiamantis was such a great personality in the area of Greek literature, that it alone was enough to explain the naming. But the reason why this street was given the name of Papadiamantis is the following:

Alexandros Papadiamantis had a brother, George, who was married in Portaria and he settled there. For many years he was secretary of the Community of Portaria then the Orminiou Municipality. His house sat in the small square, where there was a domed fountain and the great tree of Rachi, opposite the mansion of Tsopotou, now the hotel Despotiko. Thus the interpreter of the humble, authentic and uncorrupted Greek world, the monk in the world Alexandros Papadiamantis, visited Portaria many times, to see his brother and his nephews.

April 13, 2016

Saint Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome (+ 655)

St. Martin of Rome and the Two Bishops With Him (Feast Day - April 13 Gr., April 14 Slav. & September 20)


For Martin
As you rejoiced to take on flesh like a garment Savior,
Martin rejoiced to put off the flesh.
On the thirteenth the celebrated Martin died.

For the Two Bishops
The men of the sacred clergy sentenced to exile,
Truly considered it exceedingly generous.

Our Holy Father Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome, was a valiant defender of the Roman Church who suffered greatly in order to preserve the divinity of Christ against the Monothelite heresy during the seventh century.

April 12, 2016

Sayings of Saint Akakios the New of Kavsokalyva

By Archimandrite Ioannikios

On the Wondrous Interventions of the Mighty Right Hand of Divine Providence

When our Holy Father Akakios of Kavsokalyva was struggling ascetically in an unbearably lonely cave, his biographer Hieromonk Jonas from Kavsokalyva, an eyewitness to his life, says that every morning a beautiful bird would come and sit on a tree outside the cave warbling an exquisite melody. As the holy one listened to the bird, he would be filled with an ineffable pleasure, freeing him from the boredom and sadness which sometimes attacks hesychasts. Perhaps that bird was an angel of the Lord sent to console him in that inconsolable desert.

Saint Akakios the New of Kavsokalyva (+ 1730)

St. Akakios of Kavsokalyva (Feast Day - April 12)


Although you are new Akakios in time,
You surpassed the labors of those of old.

Saint Akakios lived during the dark years of the Ottoman occupation. He was probably born a few years after 1630, in the village of Golitsa in Agrafa, which is known today as the village of Agios Akakios in the prefecture of Konitsa. His parents were pious and virtuous Christians, and with their work they were able to succeed in securing the necessities of life in those difficult years to raise the two children God gave them. But the untimely death of the father shocked the family and overshadowed their happiness. Anastasios, which was the secular name of the Saint, thus became fatherless at a very young age. The mother was comforted by her deep Christian faith and piety, and she alone assumed the burden of responsibility for the family, and raised her children in the education and admonition of the Lord.

Saint Isaac the Syrian, Who Lived in Asceticism in Spoleto, Italy

On April 12th we commemorate Saint Isaac the Syrian, who had come to Spoleto in Italy and worked many miracles and established a monastery. St. Gregory the Dialogist writes about him in his Dialogues (Bk. 3, Ch. 14). This Saint Isaac the Syrian should not be confused with the Saint Isaac the Syrian who lived over a century later and was Bishop of Nineveh (Sept. 28). Below is the passage about Saint Isaac from the Dialogues of Saint Gregory.

Gregory: At such time as the Goths first invaded Italy, there was, near to the city of Spoleto, a virtuous and holy man called Isaac, who lived almost to the last days of the Goths, whom many did know, and especially the holy virgin Gregoria, who now dwells in this city, by the church of the blessed and ever Virgin Mary. This woman, in her younger years, desiring to live a nun's life, fled to the church from marriage, already agreed upon by her friends, and was by this man defended. And so, through God's providence, obtained to have that habit which so much she desired, and so, leaving her earthly spouse, she merited a spouse in heaven. Many things also I heard by the relation of the revered man Eleutherius, who was familiarly acquainted with him; and his virtuous life gives credit to his words.

April 11, 2016

The Patristic Wisdom of the "Ladder"

By Fr. Vasilios Kalliakmanis

A) On the Fourth Sunday of the Fast the Church honors and highlights Saint John of Sinai, author of the Ladder. Saint John was an important ascetic and wise mystagogue of the ascending path of the spiritual life. When the reader reads the letter of the Abbot John of Raithu to Saint John, it is understood that the Ladder was written as a fruit of obedience for the "edification of the brethren".

The "Ladder" of St. John of Sinai, a Book for all Christians

In 2006, Archimandrite George Kapsanis, the late Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery at Mount Athos, spoke about St. John of Sinai and his book the Ladder to his monks in the Dining Room. Among the things he said were the following:

- The monk should have the book of the Ladder under his pillow.