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 6: $2350)

November 30, 2016

Homily on Saint Andrew the Apostle (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

November 30, 2013

The historical and megalonymos city of Patras honors today and praises its patron and protector saint, the First-Called Apostle Andrew.

For the lovers of feasts of this Local Church it is a bright festival, but also for the entire Orthodox Church, especially the Ecumenical Patriarchate, since Saint Andrew is the founder of that Church. But Patras has the great honor of being the city of his glorious martyrdom, which he irrigated with his sanctified blood.

Saint Alexander, Bishop of Methymni

St. Alexander of Methymni (Feast Day - November 30)

According to tradition, Saint Alexander was the Bishop of Methymni,* and perhaps its first bishop.** He took part at the First Ecumenical Synod in 325. Also, it is said, he founded a monastic community near the village of Lafiona, where he spent the final years of his life.

At some distance from this village and near some ruins, is the alleged monastery of the Saint, where there is a large stone sarcophagus, which is believed to be where the Saint was buried. On the sarcophagus is the following inscription:

Saint Frumentius, Enlightener of Abyssinia

St. Frumentius of Ethiopia (Feast Day - November 30)


Guarded by the grace of the revered Trinity,
Frumentios showed the ruin of error.

+ + +

Frumentius is mightier than those of the earth,
Alone raising up mortals and saving them from error.

Monastery of Saint Andrew in Mirabello, Crete

The province of Mirabello hosted small monasteries with the greatest density than any other region of Crete. It is characteristic that in the small area of Upper Mirabello, i.e. the mountainous area north of Neapolis, over 20 small monasteries were developed.

Unlike other areas of Crete, where asceticism was developed in caves, here we meet mostly small monasteries where 2-3 monks lived together. Indeed, many current settlements in Upper Mirabello were originally developed around monasteries. Almost all monasteries today do not operate, but their churches have survived.

November 29, 2016

Big Announcement!!!

Dear Readers:

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, today is Giving Tuesday, so I thought it most appropriate for the big announcement, which has been hinted at on this site for the past few weeks.

As we ring in the new year on January 1st, the five websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center, along with all future ones, will no longer be available for free access. Rather, you will need to be a paid member in order to access all the nearly 10,000 posts which have been made so far, and the many thousands of more which will be posted in the future.

For the past few years now many have helped support this ministry financially by giving donations, either monthly or annually, and sometimes in between. This has allowed this ministry to become what it is today, and for that I am very grateful. Unfortunately, however, it just has not been enough to allow this ministry to grow to become how I envisioned it by now. In fact, donations over the past year have fallen to the point where this ministry can no longer sustain itself. For this reason, with the coming new year, though I would like to say we are taking things to a new level with this ministry, things must be scaled back.

By scaled back I mean that this ministry can no longer be supported by the 125 or so regular supporters, therefore it can no longer be offered for free at their expense. The way I look at things, even though the Mystagogy Resource Center brings in at an average about 150,000 viewers a month, the only ones who truly value this ministry are the 125 or so that are regularly contributing to its sustenance and growth. Three years ago there were about 300 supporters, and this ministry barely survived, but I did the best I could with it, so you can imagine what it is like now. Though it is hard for me to imagine that only 125 people truly value this ministry, because the great majority of the comments and emails of appreciation I get have come from people that never contributed a dime to this ministry. Three years ago we only had about 2,000 followers on Facebook, less than a thousand on Twitter, and about 500 email subscribers, while today we have 10,000 followers on Facebook, 4,000 on Twitter and 3,000 email subscribers. Three years ago I barely had 30,000 monthly visitors to my site, but today I get between 150,000 - 200,000 a month on my sites. This tells me that something needs to change.

How is it that a ministry which shows steady signs of growth can lose financial supporters, despite my appeals two or three times a year both online and by mail? I have some theories that I will not get into here, for the sake of not making this post too long. But I pose the question as a personal question to you as you read this. I'm sure those who have not so far contributed to this ministry have a personal answer to this. Perhaps you don't value this ministry to the point where it is not worth a dime from your pocket. If that's true, then the fact that this website will no longer be available to you doesn't mean much. But for those who do value it to the point where you would like to access the previous contents of these sites at some point, and are interested in the many thousands of more things that will be posted (I currently have over 33,000 in my waiting folder alone!), then when January 1st rolls around, you will have to be a paying member.

As I said before, I have hinted at this for the past few weeks so that it would not come as a big shock. And since that time I have received about 30 emails, all of which express worry. Keep in mind that this is an international ministry that has literally gone to every continent, country, city, island and perhaps town in the world, at least according to my records. When I started getting hits from Easter Island and other small remote islands, for example, I realized just how remotely this all goes. So in the past two weeks I have received four emails from Asian countries, three from Africa, two from the Middle East, two from northern Europe, one from South America, and the rest scattered from mainly English speaking countries. All of them say just about the same thing: Please don't do this! Why? Because almost all of these emails have come from people who are either Orthodox or are close to embracing Orthodoxy, yet they have no money to barely sustain themselves, there are no priests or churches available to them for hundreds of miles, and the only daily or even weekly spiritual food they get is from the internet, and primarily from this website. And these 30 or so are not the only ones with such a story.

I have yet to reply to these emails because the answer will really come from you. The only reason this ministry will only be available to paid subscribers in the future is because funding is low and we need to scale back. By scaling back I am hoping that this ministry will rejuvenate peoples interest to allow it to grow. This was all going to happen on December 1st, but the reason I pushed it to January 1st is because I would like to give my readers an opportunity to prevent the paid subscription service, if not for my sake or your sake, then at least for the sake of those people who have emailed me with desperate appeals to not do it. If only 30 have written, imagine how many have not. And imagine how much potential this ministry has in the future to impact other people that would otherwise have no access to it unless it was offered for free.

Therefore, here is my proposal. If by January 1st the monthly and annual contributors increases from the current 125 or so to at least 500, then it will remain as it is, free to all. 500 contributors will allow this ministry to survive, but even better, it will allow it to grow somewhat. There will not be any compromise to this.

What exactly do I mean by 500 contributors? If there is a paid subscription service, then it will cost either $5.00 a month or $60.00 a year. This is very affordable, as it amounts to one or two cups of coffee a month, depending where you get your coffee, or less than 15 cents a day. Now if 500 people contribute at least 5.00 a month or $60.00 a year by January 1st, then this ministry will not go into a paid subscription service.

And there are ways to get around this so that it is not 500 separate contributions. For example, if someone starts contributing $10 a month, or gives $120 a year, then I will count this as two subscriptions. If someone contributes $50 a month, or gives $300 a year, then this will count as five subscriptions. And so on and so forth. 500 contributions should sound like a piece of cake, especially for mere pennies a day, but believe me, it is a lot more difficult than you can imagine to get someone to voluntarily and generously give you even a dollar, so I know first hand how truly difficult it will be to actually get at least 500.

Those who are currently subscribing to this ministry on a monthly basis, or have contributed in the past nine months or so, will be given access to the paid subscription service automatically, and will remain so as long as they keep up their subscription. More details will be forthcoming on this.

The appeal to find 500 monthly or annual subscribers begins today. I will be making weekly updates till January 1st to give you more details about everything, and updating you on our progress.

As far as contributions go, you can make a monthly donation either through paypal below or by having it withdrawn automatically from your bank account. To make a one time contribution, you can do it through paypal (whether you have a paypal account or not), or mail in your contribution to the address below. If you have any questions about how to contribute, email me at

There are many more details I would like to give about this, but I am trying to keep this initial appeal as short as possible. More information will be forthcoming.

Thank you to all who respond to this appeal, and I pray everyone continues to have a blessed Nativity season.

With love in Christ,

John Sanidopoulos

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

To make a monthly contribution, choose from the options below in the drop down menu to set your amount and click on the SUBSCRIBE button (drop down menu may not work for Firefox users; please use another browser).

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

John Sanidopoulos
PO Box 320284
West Roxbury, MA 02132

November 28, 2016

Who is the Author of "The Way of a Pilgrim"?

Every devout Orthodox Christian has either read or heard about the book The Way of a Pilgrim. The book describes the journeys of a Russian Orthodox pilgrim who goes from city to city trying to understand the saying of the Apostle Paul: "Pray without ceasing." With the help of a monk and the book The Philokalia of the Neptic Fathers, he is able to learn and deepen his understanding so that he could practice unceasing prayer, which is also known as noetic prayer or prayer of the heart, and is summarized in the words" "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me."

Fidel Castro and Mount Athos

In January 2004 Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited Cuba to Inaugurate the first Orthodox Church of Cuba, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, at the invitation of Fidel Castro.

During a three hour dinner together, most of the discussion revolved around issues of education and the need to provide young people with intellectual skills, especially in these critical times when a crisis of values exists internationally.

Synaxarion of the Holy Confessor Stephen the New (+ 767)

On the twenty-eighth of this month [November], we commemorate our Holy Father and Confessor Stephen the New.


You head was wounded by a club Stephen the New,
Finding ready a crown that was not old.
On the twenty-eighth the head of Stephen the New was broken.

The much-contested confessor Stephen lived during the reign of Emperor Anastasios II, who was also called Artemios (713-715), and when Germanos I (715-730) was Patriarch. He was born and raised in the Queen of Cities, and was the son of Christian parents John and Anna. At a young age he occupied himself with sacred letters, and every day abided in the Church of God with his mother, occupying himself with fasting and hard work. For this reason he was garbed in the monastic schema when he was around sixteen years of age. After this he gave himself over to even more spiritual struggles, fighting off all the wicked desires of the body. Not much time passed when the divinely ineffable John, the holy abbot, reposed in peace. Wherefore the blessed Stephen was entrusted with the care of the abbacy on the famous mountain of Saint Auxentios. There he struggled in the arena of asceticism.

Holy Martyr Eirenarchos and the Seven Women With Him

St. Eierenarchos and those with him (Feast Day - November 28)


To Eirenarchos
The murderess sword was the ordained lot,
Of Eirenarchos for you O Savior the prince of peace.

To the Seven Women
In the city of Sebaste there appeared dead,
Seven all-revered women by the sword.

November 27, 2016

Synaxarion of the Holy Great Martyr James the Persian

On the twenty-seventh of this month [November], we commemorate the Holy Great Martyr James the Persian.


Dismembered and slain the Persian announces,
"My soul will I save, for my members are gone" he said.
On the twenty-seventh the Persian was slain by dismemberment.

Holy Abba Pinuphrios of Egypt

St. Pinuphrios of Egypt (Feast Day - November 27)


Pinuphrios had virtues of many colors,
And shined in the heavens as a new rainbow.

By St. John Cassian the Roman

(The Institutes, Bk. 4, Chs. 30-32)

Of the humility of Abbot Pinufius, who left a very famous Coenobium over which he presided as Presbyter, and out of the love of subjection sought a distant monastery where he could be received as a novice.

Holy Abba Nathaniel of Nitria

St. Nathaniel of Nitria (Feast Day - November 27)


"Leaving the world, run to God O soul,"
Nathaniel cried out and he expired.

By Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis

(Lausiac History, Ch. 16)

And there was also another man among the aged ones whose name was Nathaniel, and him I never met in his life, for he died fifteen years before I entered into this mountain [Nitria]; but I have met those who dwelt with him for a long time. And having made inquiries of these I learned concerning the triumphs of the man, and they also showed me his cell wherein at that time no man was living, because it was nigh unto the world; but Abba Nathaniel built it long ago when the monks were few in number.

November 26, 2016

Saint Sophianos, Bishop of Dryinoupolis (+ 1711)

St. Sophianos of Dryinoupolis (Feast Day - November 26)

Saint Sophianos was an important religious figure of his time in the region of Epirus, and is considered the precursor of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos (Aug. 24). He was probably born in the village of Polytsani, in the Pogon region of Northern Epirus. At the time he became Bishop of Dryinoupolis* (modern southwest Albania) the religious composition of the region was changing due to massive conversions to Islam.

Synaxarion of Saint Nikon the Metanoeite (+ 998)

On the twenty-sixth of this month [November], we commemorate our Holy Father Nikon the Metanoite.


Where there is a Lacedaemon a demon does not shriek,
For the terrifying Nikon scares them away.

Saint Akakios of the "Ladder"

St Akakios of the "Ladder" (Feast Day - Gr. November 26 & Slav. July 7)


Akakios fled every wickedness of life,
Now delighting in every good being absent of life.

Saint John Climacus informs us concerning the great virtue of obedience for monastics in Step 4 of his Ladder:
Obedience is absolute renunciation of our own life, clearly expressed in our bodily actions. Or, conversely, obedience is the mortification of the limbs while the mind remains alive. Obedience is unquestioning movement, voluntary death, a life free of curiosity, carefree danger, unprepared defence before God, fearlessness of death, a safe voyage, a sleeper’s progress. Obedience is the tomb of the will and the resurrection of humility. A corpse does not argue or reason as to what is good or what seems to be bad. For he who has devoutly put the soul of the novice to death will answer for everything. Obedience is an abandonment of discernment in a wealth of discernment.

Hieromartyr Clement, Pope of Rome (+ 101)

St. Clement of Rome (Feast Day - November 24)


Clement is cast into the depths like an anchor,
And is present with Christ, the anchor of the eschaton.

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich


Clement was born in Rome of royal lineage and was a contemporary of the holy apostles. His mother and two brothers, traveling on the sea, were carried by a storm to different places. His father then went to find his wife and two sons and he, too, became lost. Clement, being twenty-four years old, then set out for the east to seek his parents and brothers. In Alexandria, he made the acquaintance of the Apostle Barnabas and, afterward, he joined the Apostle Peter whom his two brothers, Faustinus and Faustinian, had already followed. By God's providence, the Apostle Peter came upon Clement's mother as an aged beggar woman and then his father also. Thus, the whole family was united and all returned to Rome as Christians. Clement did not separate himself from the great apostle, who appointed him as bishop before his death.

November 25, 2016

Holy Great Martyr Mercurius of Caesarea in Cappadocia

St. Mercurius the Great Martyr (Feast Day - November 25)


Although Mercurius was struck by a sword,
While dead he strikes the enemies of the Lord.

The Holy Great Martyr Mercurius, a Scythian by descent, served as a soldier in the Roman army. He was handsome in appearance with blonde hair and a natural redness in his cheeks. The impious emperors Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-259) issued a decree ordering all Roman citizens to worship the pagan gods, and condemning Christians to torture and death unless they obeyed the decree.

The Holy Empress together with the Holy Martyr Porphyrios and the Two Hundred Soldiers with Him


To the Empress
The wife of the emperor died by beheading,
Finding the bridegroom King to be incorrupt.

To Porphyrios and the 200 Soldiers
With your soldiers Porphyrios you go towards the sword,
Eager to arrive alone as the general of all.

The following account, as written by St. Dimitri of Rostov, took place after St. Katherine debated the fifty philosophers and rhetoricians, who were converted to Christianity and subsequently martyred. It concerns the conversions and martyrdoms of the Empress and the General Porphyrios along with 200 soldiers, who are commemorated with Saint Katherine on November 25th.

November 24, 2016

Quotes of Orthodox Saints on Thanksgiving

"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

- St. Paul the Apostle

Holy Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria

St. Peter of Alexandria (Feast Day - November 24)


Unshakable was the faith of the beheaded Peter,
Who saw Christ with a rent tunic.

The Holy Hieromartyr Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria, was born and raised at Alexandria. He was a highly educated man, and was head of the School of Alexandria. In the year 300 he became the Archbishop of the Alexandrian Church, succeeding his teacher and spiritual guide, the holy Archbishop Theonas.

Holy Martyr Theodore of Antioch

St. Theodore the Martyr of Antioch (Feast Day - November 24);
Photo shows the Sanctuary of Delphi


A gift of God Blessed One was your beheading by the sword,
A gift of God was the blood of your neck that you brought.*

By Theodoret

(Ecclesiastical History Ch. 2 Bk. 6 & 7)

Julian [the Apostate], wishing to make a campaign against the Persians, dispatched the trustiest of his officers to all the oracles throughout the Roman Empire, while he himself went as a suppliant to implore the Pythian oracle of Daphne to make known to him the future. The oracle responded that the corpses lying nearby were becoming an obstacle to divination; that they must first be removed to another spot; and that then he would utter his prophecy, for, said he, "I could say nothing, if the grove be not purified." Now at that time there were lying there the relics of the victorious martyr Babylas and the lads who had gloriously suffered with him, and the lying prophet was plainly stopped from uttering his wonted lies by the holy influence of Babylas. Julian was aware of this, for his ancient piety had taught him the power of victorious martyrs, and so he removed no other body from the spot, but only ordered the worshipers of Christ to translate the relics of the victorious martyrs. They marched with joy to the grove, put the coffin on a carriage and went before it leading a vast concourse of people, singing the psalms of David, while at every pause they shouted: "Shame be to all them that worship molten images." For they understood the translation of the martyr to mean defeat for the demon.

November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Resource Page

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thess. 5:18).

"Whether, then, you eat, or drink, or do anything, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer" (1 Tim. 4:4-5).


Amphilochios of Iconium on the Canon of Holy Scripture

Amphilochios of Iconium was a cousin of Gregory the Theologian, and served as Bishop of Iconium (in Galatia) from A.D. 373 to 394. He wrote several books, but only a few poems and some other fragments from his writings have come down to us. His teaching on the canon is preserved in his Iambics for Seleucus (Iambi ad Seleucum), a didactic poetic work formerly attributed to Gregory the Theologian.

The Greek text reproduced below is from vol. 37 of Migne's Patrologia Graeca, where the Iambics of Seleucus is printed among the works of Gregory the Theologian.

Saint Dionysios I the Wise, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 1492)

St. Dionysios the Wise (Feast Day - November 23)

Dionysios was born in Dimitsana of Peloponnesos before 1410, where he also studied at the School of Philosophou Monastery. He became a monk in the Holy Magganon Monastery in Constantinople, where he progressed in virtue and piety under the supervision of his spiritual father, Saint Mark Eugenikos, Metropolitan of Ephesus, who ordained him into the Deaconate and Priesthood.

Saint Gregory, Bishop of Agrigentum

St. Gregory of Agrigentum (Feast Day - November 23)


From Agrigentum to God you withdraw O Word,
He whom the ends of the earth judge a blessed father.

Saint Gregory was born on the island of Sicily, in the village of Pretorium, not far from the city of Agrigentum, to his pious and virtuous parents Chariton and Theodoti. The infant Gregory was baptized by the bishop of Agrigentum, Potamianos. When he was eight years of age his parents gave him over to sacred learning. At ten years of age the studious boy mastered writing and was able to read and to sing church hymns. At twelve years of age Gregory was given to the clergy, and he was put under the spiritual guidance of the archdeacon Donatus. Bishop Potamianos ordained him a Reader when he was eighteen, due to the fact that he had an excellent reading voice. One day, however, an angel of the Lord appeared to the holy youth as he slept, and after calling out his name three times, he said: "Gregory, your prayers have been heard. Therefore, hasten and go." Without delay Gregory left Agrigentum and went to Carthage, where he found a Spirit-bearing monk named Mark. Believing that God had sent him to Mark, he stayed with him for four years. Together they departed for Antioch, where Mark was greatly admired.

While in Antioch Gregory was prompted by a divine vision to go to Jerusalem, where he was ordained a Deacon by Patriarch Makarios of Jerusalem (552, 564–575). Gregory dwelt for a certain time at Jerusalem, and then went to Constantinople, where he was received with love by the brethren of the Monastery of the Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. The ascetic efforts of Gregory were noticed by Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople (552-565), at whose insistence the Saint participated in the Fifth Ecumenical Synod (553). The Saint's rebukes of the Monothelites made him famous even to the ears of the emperor. At the completion of the Synod, Gregory set off for Rome, to venerate the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

During this time the Bishop of Agrigentum died. The elder clergy and illustrious citizens of Agrigentum journeyed to Rome with a request for the Pope to determine a successor for their late hierarch from among a list of candidates they were presenting. The Pope, however, declined their proposal through divine inspiration, and instead summoned Gregory to serve them as bishop.

For a few years Gregory peacefully guided the flock entrusted to him by God. He was a defender of the down-trodden, a wise preacher, and miraculous healer. As bishop, Gregory led the life of an ascetic monk, fervently observing monastic vows. The flock loved their hierarch and trusted in him. But there were also malicious people who had resolved to slander him.

Two priests, Sabinus and Crescens, for whom Gregory had done much good, could not at all tolerate Gregory's virtuousness. For such is the nature of vice, that it cannot tolerate virtue. Consequently, Sabinus and Crescens found a notorious prostitute and bribed her to malign Gregory by saying that he had had immoral relations with her. So it was that when Gregory was in church, the woman crept into his bedroom, and just as Gregory came out of church with the people, she emerged from his room. The two priests began to revile Gregory as a libertine. However, Gregory was composed and prepared for every suffering. They placed the holy bishop under guard. The people attempted to defend their bishop, but were unsuccessful. At the trial the harlot gave false testimony against Gregory. Just as she pronounced the words of slander, she went into a fit of frenzied rage. The judges accused the Saint of sorcery. Gregory was sent for judgment to the Pope in Rome together with a report about his "crimes."

The Pope, after reading the charges, did not want to see the accused, and gave orders to remand him to prison. The Saint endured his humiliation humbly, dwelling in constant prayer. His prayerful effort and wonderworking gifts quickly became known throughout the city and the surrounding region. Pious Romans began to gather at the prison, whom the imprisoned Saint taught about the righteous life, and he implored the Lord to heal the sick.

After two and a half years, without a trial or a verdict, the clairvoyant Elder Mark, who had known Gregory since youth, came to the Pope. The Elder did not believe the charges and he persuaded the Pope to convene a synod to decide Gregory's case. At the invitation of the Pope, many clergy from the city of Agrigentum came to the synod, together with all those making accusations against the Saint, including the harlot. From Constantinople three bishops and the imperial dignitary Marcian came to Rome. Along the way Marcian had fallen grievously ill. On the advice of many people who had received healing through the prayers of Gregory, servants carried the dying man to the prison where the wonderworking Saint languished. Through the prayers of Saint Gregory the Lord granted healing to Marcian.

At the synod the slanderers attempted to renew their accusations, and as their chief proof they presented the deranged harlot to the judge, declaring that Gregory had bewitched her. But the Saint prayed over her and cast out the devil. The woman came to her senses and told the synod the whole truth. Through her tears, she confessed that she had been bribed to malign the man of God, and that immediately after she had committed the slander, the evil spirit had entered her and held her in its power. Sabinus and Crescens, along with the other maligners - more than a hundred in number - found their faces suddenly turned as black as coal (which could also be seen in their descendants for many generations), and they were punished with exile. Marcian wanted to execute them, but Gregory implored forgiveness for them.

Gregory returned in honor to his own cathedral, and was received with great exultation by his people, and there he worked greater wonders than before. Surrounded by the love of his flock, he guided the Church for many years until he attained deep old age, and he reposed in peace in 590.

Portions of his skull can be found at the Metropolis of Thessaliotidos and at the Athonite Monastery of Dionysiou. Other relics are at the Athonite Monastery of Panteleimon, Palaiokastritsa Monastery in Kerkyra, and the Lavra of Saint Alexander Nevsky in St. Petersburg. His memory is celebrated on November 23rd, together with Saint Potamianos the Bishop and Saint Mark the Monk.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
O Gregory, thou wast diligent in thy Master's commandments, even from thy swaddling bands. Thou wast filled with heavenly gifts, and dost lead to verdant pastures those who cry to thee: Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee; glory to Him Who through thee grants healings to all.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us; take not Thy mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace through the prayers of the hierarchs Gregory and Amphilochios.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
With the brilliant rays of the Holy Spirit, the Church enlightens the way of those who celebrate thy joyful repose,, O righteous and blessed Father Gregory.

There are ten exegetical commentaries of Saint Gregory on the Book of Ecclesiastes. Below is an excerpt from one of them:

"Come, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a glad heart; for what you do, God has approved beforehand" (Ecclesiastes 9:7).

This exhortation of Ecclesiastes is very proper if you take its words in their ordinary everyday sense. If we embrace a simple rule of life and let our beliefs be inspired bu a sincere faith in God, we should eat our bread with joy and drink our wine with a glad heart. We should not fall into slanderous speech or devote ourselves to devious stratagems; rather, we should direct our thoughts on straight paths and (as far as is practicable) help the poor and destitute with compassion and generosity – that is, dedicate ourselves to the activities that please God himself.

But the same text can be given a spiritual meaning that leads us to higher thoughts. It speaks of the heavenly and mystical bread, which has come down from heaven, bringing life to the world, and to drink a spiritual wine with a cheerful heart, that wine which flowed from the side of the True Vine at the moment of his saving passion. Of this, the Gospel of our salvation says: "When Jesus had taken bread and blessed it, he said to his holy disciples and apostles, Take, eat; this is my body which is being broken for you for the forgiveness of sins. In the same way he took the cup and said, Drink from this, all of you: this is my blood, the blood of the new covenant, which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins." For whoever eats this bread and drinks this mystical wine enjoys true blessedness and rejoices, exclaiming: You have put joy into our hearts.

Moreover, I think this is the bread and this is the wine that is referred to in the book of Proverbs by God’s self-subsistent Wisdom (that is, Christ our Savior): "Come, eat my bread and drink the wine I have mixed for you." Thus he refers to our mystical sharing in the Word. For those worthy to receive this are forever clothed in garments (that is, the works of light) shining as bright as light itself. As the Lord says in the Gospel, "Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." And, indeed, oil will be seen flowing eternally over their heads – the oil that is the Spirit of truth, guarding and preserving them from all the harm of sin.


Holy Hieromartyr Sisinnius, Bishop of Cyzicus

St. Sissinius of Cyzicus (Feast Day - November 22)


You had as a sacrificer and now as a strange sacrifice,
You have Sissinius by the sword O Word.

The Holy Hieromartyr Sisinnius was Bishop of Cyzicus during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Having taught the pagans the Christian faith, and turning many away from the idolatrous error of their forefathers and bringing them to the Lord, he baptized them and established them firmly in the faith. Those who had been imprisoned for their faith in Christ and were being tortured, he would visit them, heal them, and encourage them to endure to the end.

November 22, 2016

Saint Kallistos II Xanthopoulos, Patriarch of Constantinople

St. Kallistos II Xanthopoulos (Feast Day - November 22)


Kallistos supplanted the wicked enemy,
Declared a friend he approached God.

Kallistos Xanthopoulos received his surname because he was a monk at the Monastery of Xanthopoulos, which was located in Mount Athos. Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite tells us that he found a letter of this Kallistos at Pantocrator Monastery, which says he lived as a hesychast in the Hermitage of Saint Onouphrios, which belonged to Pantocrator Monastery, and he states that this Monastery was his. By this Nikodemos drew the conclusion that Xanthopoulos Monastery was likely another name for Pantocrator Monastery.

Holy Apostles Philemon, Apphia, Archippus and Onesimus of the Seventy

Sts. Philemon, Archippus, Onesimus, Apphia (Feast Day - November 22)


To Philemon
A bright green land cherishes Philemon,
Who is beaten by the bloodthirsty with the shoots of a willow.

To Archippus
Archippus longed for the cornerstone,
And stones fulfilled this longing.

To Onesimus
Onesimus laid out his legs for crushing,
Legs which bravely ran the roads for Paul.

To Apphia
Apphia is laid out and struck on the ground,
To the heavens having the eyes of her heart.

On the twenty second Philemon was carried off.

Holy Martyr Prokopios of Palestine

St. Prokopios the Reader (Feast Day - November 22)


Towards beheading he alone hastened towards the heavens,
Prokopios the offspring of Palestine.


By Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea


In the First Year of the Persecution of our Days (303 A.D.).

Holy Martyrs Stephen and the Two Marks of Antioch

Sts. Stephen and Mark of Antioch (Feast Day - November 22)


You were beheaded with the sword Stephen together with Mark,
Both of you receiving many crowns.

These Holy Martyrs lived during the reign of Diocletian, when Magnus was governor of Antioch in Pisidia. They were taken as prisoners for boldly proclaiming in public the Christian confession that Christ was the true God. After undergoing various tortures to get them to deny their faith and sacrifice to demons, they steadfastly refused. For this Magnus ordered that they be beheaded, and in this way the blessed ones received the crown of martyrdom.

November 21, 2016

History of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

By John Sanidopoulos

The Feast of the Entrance of our All Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary into the Temple, which is called the Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the West, is believed to not be among the most ancient festivals of the Church. However, indications that the feast was observed in the fourth century are found in the traditions of Palestinian Christians, which say that the Empress Helen (May 21) built a church in honor of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, though there is no evidence for this. Gregory of Nyssa, in the fourth century, also mentions the Entrance of the Holy Virgin, along with Jerome, Gregory the Theologian, Epiphanius of Salamis, Proclus, Andrew of Crete, John of Damascus and other Church Fathers, though it is not mentioned in any way as a festival of the Church until the eighth or ninth century, perhaps due to the rise of the influence of monasticism in the liturgical life and in the lives of Christians at this time, since the Entrance presents the Theotokos as a monastic attaining the heights of the spiritual life alone in the temple. Germanos I, Patriarch of Constantinople from 715 to 730, wrote two homilies for the feast. Tarasios (+ 806), the Patriarch of Constantinople, introduced it at Constantinople a century later as an official feast, though it had already been celebrated (this reintroduction may have been due to the first wave of Iconoclasm having passed). George of Nicomedia (9th cent.) wrote three sermons on the subject which address every detail of the feast, including a beautiful homily which addresses rhetorically the temple itself; he also composed hymns for the feast together with Leo Magister. It was celebrated in the monasteries of Southern Italy by the ninth century as well. The first calendar to describe the Feast as the Εἴσοδος τῆς Παναγίας Θεοτόκου (Entry of the All-Holy Theotokos) was in the Menologion of Basil II, an 11th-century menology of the Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II.

Panegyric for the Entrance of our Most Holy Theotokos (St. Tarasios of Constantinople)

By Saint Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople

With cheerfulness and astonishment do the lovers of feasts raise up hymns with longing at the present festival of the Entrance of the Ever-Virgin and Theotokos into the Temple. Today heaven and earth have a common feast, together glorifying the Creator, who elected as His habitation the mortal nature of the Maiden child of God.

November 20, 2016

Holy Martyrs Nerses, Joseph, John, Severius, Isaac, Azades and many other Martyrs with them of Persia

Sts. Nerses, Joseph, John, Severius, Isaac and many others with them
(Feast Day - November 20)


To Nerses and Joseph
Both Nerses and Joseph were killed at the same time,
Slaughtered by knives, as the Apostle says.

To John, Severius and Isaac
John and Severius were together stoned,
Isaac was killed by the stone of a slave.

To Azades and three other Martyrs
Azades together with three other contestants,
Were killed by the spears of enemies of the Trinity.

To Thekla, Vaoutha and Denachida
Thekla, Vaoutha, Denachida virgins,
The contest of the sword showed you to be virgin-contestants.

All of these Saints were martyred during the reign of King Shapur II of Persia in the year 343.

Nerses was a Bishop in Persia with many followers, and Joseph was his disciple and a Bishop as well. They were virtuous men who taught the people piety, having turned them away from error. When Nerses was eighty years old and Joseph was eighty-nine years old, they were brought before the king, who offered to reward Nerses with riches if he would agree to adore the sun. The Bishop answered that it was unthinkable for him to "tear asunder" his Christian faith by offering worship to a mere creature, the sun. Angered by this reply, Shapur threatened Nerses with immediate death if he did not obey his order to adore the sun. The bishop replied that, although the king had the power to kill them, "You could not sever us from our God." Both Nerses and Joseph were put to death by the sword.

John, Severius and Isaac were also Bishops of Persia, who after being stripped naked and beaten and whipped, were taken outside the city with an ascetic named Onam, and they were stoned to death.

Papias (or Dapius) and Isaac were Presbyter who were martyred by beheading.

Azades (or Boethazades, Geithazet, Geidazet) was a Eunuch, and with Sosani, Noelmari and Zarouantini they refused to worship the sun and fire. With them were also other virgin ascetic women, such as Thekla, Vaoutha, Denachi, Tentous, Mama, Malochia, Anna, Nana and Malach. They all suffered many torments before they were sentenced to death. Azades, Sosani, Noelmari and Zarouantini were put to death with spears. Thekla, Anna and other virgins were beheaded. Three other virgins were cut up into pieces, and through their spilled blood a fig tree grew, which healed many illness and diseases of the faithful. However, when the impious Manicheans heard about this, they cut down the fig tree.

All having given a good confession, and preferring a horrible death rather than deny their faith in Christ, were in return given by Christ the crown of martyrdom.

Holy Martyr Dasius of Durostorum

St. Dasius of Dorostorum (Feast Day - November 20)


Dasius was destined to contend by the sword,
Finding the crown of the contest by the sword.

In the Passion of Saint Dasius there is a description of the Saturnalia festival celebrated by the pagan legionaries stationed in Durostorum (modern Silistra in Bulgaria). Each year, a young and handsome legionary was chosen by lot to be the "king" of the festival for one month, which gave him unusual privileges and licence. Thus arrayed and attended by a multitude of soldiers, he went about in public with full license to indulge his passions and to taste of every pleasure, however base and shameful. But if his reign was merry, it was short and ended tragically; for when the thirty days were up and the festival of Saturn (Gr. Kronos) had come, he was sacrificed before the altar of Saturn.

November 19, 2016

When the Cross You Bear Seems Unbearable (Archim. Aimilianos of Simonopetra)

By Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra

When, my beloved, your Christian life begins to become difficult and it seems like your cross is unbearable, remain steadfast, become a martyr. Say to yourself, "Let us stand aright," remain steadfast. Say, like the Prophet, "Behold, Lord, I stand here to execute Your will," or like the Panagia, "Behold, the servant of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word."

Holy Prophet Obadiah

Holy Prophet Obadiah (Feast Day - November 19)


Once Obadiah made known the future,
Swiftly bringing shame.
On the nineteenth the life of Obadiah passed beyond.

The name Obadiah (Abdias) means "servant of God." He was from the valley of Betharam in the region of Shechem, and lived about eight hundred years before Christ. He first served under King Ahab of Samaria, then under King Ahaziah. In those days the whole of Israel had turned away from the true God and had begun to offer sacrifice to Baal, but Obadiah faithfully served the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in secret.

Holy Martyr Azes of Isauria and the 150 Soldiers With Him

St. Azes and those martyred with him (Feast Day - November 19)


To Azes
Thirsty as a deer in water,
Azes the Martyr ran towards the sword.

To the 150 Soldiers
Three sets of fifty were beheaded O Christ,
You honor the sets of fifty with a threefold crown.

To the 12 Soldiers
"We are soldiers of the King of all today,
By the sword," said the twelve soldiers.

To the Woman and her Daughter
Wife and daughter left Aquilinus,
Having found a bridegroom in Christ through the sword.

Holy Martyr Barlaam of Antioch

Saint Barlaam the Martyr (Feast Day - November 19)


Together with incense, Barlaam, you bear the fire,
And are perceived as fragrant incense to the Lord.

The Holy Martyr Barlaam was from Antioch in Syria.* Though elderly in age, he openly confessed Christ and was arrested and brought before the governor of Antioch. Because he could not be persuaded to sacrifice to the idols, he was flogged with a cowhide then he had his nails torn out.** Then he was brought to an altar for the idols, and it was ordered that he be forced to spread forth his right hand. On this hand was put burning coals and incense.*** By this the governor thought that he would not be able to endure the heat of the coals, and therefore would drop the coals and the incense onto the altar, and in this way it would appear that he sacrificed to the idols.

November 18, 2016

On the Nativity Fast - When? Why? How?

By Metropolitan Symeon of New Smyrna

1. The second longest fast after Great Lent is the Nativity Fast. It also consists of forty days, but it lacks the strictness of the fast of Great Lent. It begins on November 15th and ends on December 24th.

2. The feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the second biggest Despotic Feast of the Christian calendar. Until the middle of the fourth century the Eastern Church celebrated the feasts of the Nativity and Epiphany on the same day, which was January 6th. Christmas as a separate feast, celebrated on December 25th, was introduced to the East from the West at the end of the fourth century.

Holy Martyr Romanos of Palestine With the Child Martyr Barulas of Antioch

Sts. Romanos and Barulas (Feast Day - November 18)


Romanos was mighty before the torments,
Mightily bearing the almighty Word.


By Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea


In the First Year of the Persecution of our Days (303 A.D.)

Holy Martyrs Alphaeus and Zacchaeus of Caesarea

Sts. Alphaeus and Zacchaues (Feast Day - November 18)


To Zacchaeus
Previously Zacchaeus distributed half his riches,
Now Savior he pours out all his blood by the sword.

To Alphaeus
Alphaeus persevered in the cutting off of his head,
And is allotted to possess the indivisible Trinity.


By Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea


In the First Year of the Persecution of our Days (303 A.D.)

November 17, 2016

Saint Gennadios I, Patriarch of Constantinople (+ 471)

St. Gennadios of Constantinople (Feast Day - Gr. November 17; Slav. August 31)


Gennadios found the crown of Eden,
Appearing noetically in the noble arena.

The divine Gennadios was first ordained a Presbyter in the Church of Constantinople, and in the year 458 succeeded Anatolios as Archbishop of Constantinople. From the beginning of his episcopate Gennadios proved his zeal for the Christian faith and the maintenance of discipline. For example, Patriarch Gennadios would not ordain anyone unless they knew the Psalter by heart.

Saint Gregory of Neocaesaria's Revelation of the True Faith

Saint Gregory Thaumaturgus (ca. 213-270, also known as Gregory of Neocaesarea or Gregory the Wonderworker) is commemorated on November 17. When he become Bishop of Caesarea, there were only 17 Christians in a city full of pagans. When he died, there were only 17 pagans left in that region. As his name states, there were many wonders done by the Spirit through Gregory. Saint Gregory of Nyssa said that Gregory of Thaumaturgus was the first person known to receive a vision of the Theotokos. In that vision, the Theotokos and the Apostle John gave him a statement of doctrine on the Trinity.

Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes in his Life of Saint Gregory: