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Saints and Feasts of November 18

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Synaxis of All Saints of Kastoria

On the third Sunday of November, the Metropolis of Kastoria celebrates the Synaxis of All Saints of Kastoria. On this day, in the Church of Saint Nikanoros, portions of the sacred relics of these Saints are displayed for veneration by the faithful.

Among the Saints celebrated this day who had some association with Kastoria - whether they were born there, served there, taught there or died there - are the following:

Sermon on the Parable of the Rich Fool (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

Commentary on the Gospel of Luke

Sermon 89

Luke 12:13-21

And one of the multitude said unto Him, "Teacher, bid my brother divide with me the inheritance." But He said unto him, "Man, who made Me a judge or a divider over you?" And He said unto them, "Take heed, and keep yourselves from all greediness: for a man's life is not from his possessions by reason of his having a superfluity." And He spoke a parable unto them, saying, "The land of a certain rich man brought forth unto him plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, because I have not where to gather my fruits?' And he said, 'This will I do: I will pull down my storehouses, and build greater: and there will I gather all my crops and my goods. And I will say to myself, Self, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy thyself.' But God said unto him, 'You fool, this night they demand of you your soul. But whose shall those things be which you have provided?' So is he that lays up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Ninth Sunday of Luke: Gospel Reading

Ninth Sunday of Luke

Gospel According to Luke 12:16-21

Parable of the Rich Fool


The Lord said this parable: "The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." As he said these things, he cried out: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost: Epistle Reading

Twenty-Second Sunday of Pentecost

St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 6:11-18


Brethren, see with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Church of Saint Matthew of the Sinaites in Heraklion, Crete

Approximately 500m south of the Cathedral of Saint Menas, within the historic district of Heraklion, is the Church of Saint Matthew of the Sinaites. The present building dates back to just after the earthquake of 1508. However, the earliest references in the lists of churches of Candia (Crete), state that the first temple goes as far back as the second Byzantine period. Regarded as “Great and Unique”, the Church of Saint Matthew was inextricably connected with the life of the city.

Saint Sergius of Malopinega (+ 1585)

St. Sergius of Malopinega (Feast Day - November 16)

Saint Sergius of Malopinega (in the world Simeon), was born in 1493. His father, Markian Stephanovich Nekliud, was descended from Novgorod nobles. Together with other fellow citizens they left their native-place setting off “to the side of the icy sea,” when Great Novgorod was finally subjugated to the power of Moscow by Ivan III. There in the northlands, Markian Stephanovich married Apollinaria, a maiden from a rich and noble family. The pious spouses raised their son Simeon in the fear of God, they gave him a fine education, and inculcated in him the love for “book-learning.” Having grown old, Markian and Apollinaria by mutual agreement went to monasteries. Markian (in monasticism Matthew) was afterwards abbot of the Resurrection Monastery in the city of Keurola. Apollinaria died a schema nun with the name Pelagia.

Saint Fulvianus (in Baptism Matthew), Prince of Ethiopia

St. Fulvianus-Matthew (Feast Day - November 16)

It is believed that after the day of Pentecost, the Apostle and Evangelist Matthew preached the Gospel first in Palestine, and then in Syria, Media, Persia, Parthia and finally, Ethiopia. Tradition holds that the Lord appeared to Saint Matthew, giving him a wooden rod and instructing him to plant it in a particular place in Ethiopia. Upon his arrival at the place in Ethiopia described by the Lord, he met a man whom he ordained a Bishop named Platon. The rod was planted, as the Lord had instructed, and almost immediately it sprouted leaves and grew into a beautiful tree, the fruit of which was delicious. A spring also welled up nearby, the water of which could heal the sick.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Life and Mission of St. Paisius Velichkovsky (1722-1794)


An Early Modern Master of The Orthodox Spiritual Life

By John A. McGuckin

Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality
(Volume 9, Number 2, Fall 2009, pp. 157-173)

Many people today have become familiar with the figure of the Russian Pilgrim. The book, The Way of a Pilgrim, purports to have been written as the autobiographical record of a poor and barely educated Russian peasant of the 19th century. Treading his way across the Steppes, enduring countless hardships and adventures as he persevered, gripped only with the reading of his beloved book of the spiritual writers of the Early Church, he directed all his mental energies around the countless recitation: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” This famous story is designed to advocate how the prayer of the heart can happen if one wills it: a mystical transitioning from prayer on the lips, to prayer in the mind, to prayer of the heart: namely, prayer in the deepest levels of the human spirit’s personal communion with the Risen Christ.

Saints Gurias, Samonas and Habibus Resource Page

Sts. Gurias, Samonas and Habibus (Feast Day - November 15)


Samonas and Gurias were perfected by the sword,
And Habibus by fire, thus fire and sword become their joy.
On the fifteenth Habibus is slain in flames, his companions by copper.

Holy Martyrs Gurias, Samonas and Habibus: Patrons of Honorable Marriage

Holy Martyrs Gurias, Samonas and Habibus as Models for our Lives

Homily on Gurias and Samonas (Mar Jacob of Serugh)

Homily on Habibus (Mar Jacob of Serugh)

Homily on Habibus

By Mar Jacob of Serugh

Habibus the martyr, clad in flame, has called to me out of the fire,

That for him likewise I should fashion an image of beauty among the glorious.

Comrade of conquerors, lo! He beckons to me out of the burning,

That, as for the glory of his Lord, I should sing concerning him.

In the midst of live coals stands the heroic man, and lo! He calls to me,

That I should fashion his image: but the blazing fire permits me not.

His love is fervid, glowing is his faith;

His fire also burns, and who is adequate to recount his love?

Nay, by reason of that love which led the martyr into the fire,

No man is able to recount his beauties divine.

For who shall dare enter and see in the blazing fire

To whom he is like, and after what pattern he is to be fashioned among the glorious?

Shall I fashion his image by the side of the youths, the children of the furnace?

With Hananiah shall I reckon Habibus? I know not.

Lo! These were not burned there: how, then, is he like?

He, I say, like them, when he was burned and the youths not?

Which, I ask, the more beautiful — Habibus the martyr, or Azariah?

Difficult for me is the image: how I am to look upon it, I know not.

Lo! Michael was not burned by the flame;

But Habibus was burned: which, then, the more beautiful to him that looks upon him?

Who shall dare say that this is repulsive, or that;

Or not so comely this as that, to him that beholds him?

Three there are in the fire, and the flame comes not near them;

But one was burned: and how shall I suffice to tell

That the Fourth form is that of Him who went down into the midst of the furnace,

That He might fashion an image for Habibus there along with those of the three?

He gives a place in the fire to him who was burned,

That he may be, instead of Him the Fourth, by the side of the conquerors.

And, if of the three the beauties be glorious, though they were not burned,

How shall not this one, who was burned, be mingled with the glorious?

If a man have the power either to be burned or not to be burned,

Of this man, who was burned, more exalted was the beauty than that of the three.

But, inasmuch as the Lord is the control of all things,

He is to be praised, both where He rescues and where He delivers up.

Moreover, too, the will of the three who were not burned,

And of him who was burned, is one and the same, in this case and in that;

And, had its Lord commanded the fire to burn them,

Even those three on their part, burned they would have been;

And, if He had signified to it that it should not burn that one man also,

He would not have been burned; nor had it been of himself that he was rescued.

To go into the fire was of their own will, when they went in;

But that they were not burned — because the Lord of the fire willed and commanded it.

Therefore one equal beauty is that of him who was burned,

And that of him who was not burned, because the will also was equal.

Beloved martyr! exalted is your beauty; exalted is your rank:

Graceful too your crown, and mingled your story with that of the glorious.

Choice gold are you, and the fire has tried you, and resplendent is your beauty.

And lo! Into the King's crown are you wrought, along with the victorious.

Good workman! Who, in the doctrine of the Son of God,

Pursues his course like a valiant man, because of the beauty of his faith.

Habibus the martyr was a teacher of that which is true;

A preacher also, whose mouth was full of faith.

Watchful was he, and prompt for service; and he encouraged with his teaching

The household of the house of God, through his faith.

Of light was he full, and he wrestled with the darkness

Which overspread the country from the paganism which had darkened it.

With the Gospel of the Son was his mouth filled in the congregations;

And as it were a leader of the way did he become to the villages when he arrived in them.

Zealous he was, because he was concerned for the doctrine

Divine, that he might establish the adherents of the faith.

At the time when the winds of the pagans blew, a lamp was he,

And flamed forth while they blew upon him, and went not out.

All on fire was he, and filled with the love of his Lord, and was concerned

For this — that he might speak of Him without hindrance.

The thorns of errour sprang up in the land from paganism;

And, as much as in him lay, he rooted them out by his diligence.

He taught, admonished, and confirmed in the faith,

The friends of Christ, who were harassed by persecutors.

Against sword and against fire did he wrestle,

With love hot as the flame, and was not afraid.

Like a two-edged brand, keen was

His faith, and against error did he contend.

Leaven did he prove to be in this land which had become exhausted

Through fondness for the idols of vanity which error had brought in.

He was like salt by reason of his savoury doctrine

To this region, which had become insipid through unbelief.

A deacon was he, and filled the place of a high-priest

By the preaching and teaching of that which is true.

He was to the flock a good shepherd while he was its overseer;

And his life laid he down for the flock while he tended it.

He chased away the wolf, and drove off from it the beast of prey.

And he repaired the breaches, and gathered the lambs into their folds.

He went out secretly and encouraged the congregations:

He strengthened them, and exhorted them, and held them up.

And he forged armour of faith, and put it on them,

That they might not be ignominiously overthrown by the paganism which abounded.

The flocks of the fold of the Son of God were being laid waste

By persecutors: and he encouraged the lambs and the ewes.

And he was an advocate to the household of faith;

And he taught them not to be daunted by persecutors.

He taught them to run to meet death,

Without being afraid either of sword or of fire.

In the teaching of the Son of God he prospered,

So that his faith pursued its course without dread.

Then errour grew envious, became furious, and was maddened, because of him;

And she pursued after him, that she might shed upon the earth innocent blood.

The Defamer, who hates the race of men,

Laid snares for him, that he might rid the place of his presence.

He who hates the truth pursued after him to put him to death,

That he might make his voice to cease from the teaching of the house of God.

And errour raised an outcry demanding that Habibus should die, because she hated him;

Vexation goaded her on, and she sought to take away his life.

His story was talked about before the pagan judge of the country,

And the dear fame of him reached the king: who in great rage,

And because the diadem was interwoven with paganism, decreed death

Against Habibus, because he was full of faith.

And, when the command reached the judge, he armed himself

With rage and fury; and, with a mind thirsting for blood,

And like hunters who lay nets for the young stag,

After Habibus did they go out to catch him.

But this man was a preacher of the faith,

Who in the highway of the crucifixion was prospering;

And, that he might benefit by his teaching the children of his people,

His work embraced the countries round about him.

So, when error went out after him, she found him not:

Not that he was fled, but that he had gone out to preach the Gospel.

Then, because of the fury of the pagans, which was great beyond all that was meet,

His kindred and his mother did they seize for his sake.

Blessed are you, O woman! Mother since you are of the martyr.

For wherefore was it that they seized you and bound you, iniquitously?

What do they require of you, O you full of beauty? What, I ask, have they required of you?

Lo! They require of you that you bring the martyr, that he may be a sacrifice.

Bring, oh bring your sweet fruit to the place of the oblation —

The fruit whose smell is fragrant, that it may be incense to the Godhead.

Fair shoot, your cluster bring from where it is,

That its wine may be for a libation whose taste is sweet.

The lamb heard that they were seeking him, that he might be a sacrifice;

And he set out and came to the sacrificers rejoicing.

He heard that others also were being afflicted for his sake,

And he came that he might bear the suffering which was his, in the stead of many.

The lot fell on him, to be himself alone a sacrifice;

And the fire that was to offer him up was looking out for him until he came.

Of the many who were bound for his sake

Not one single person was seized to die, but only he.

He it was that was worthy, and for him was martyrdom reserved;

And to snatch the martyr's place no man was able.

And therefore of his own will did he present himself

To the judge, that he might be seized, and die for Jesus' sake.

He heard that they sought him, and he came that he might be seized, even as they sought him:

And he went in of himself before the judge, and dauntless was his look.

He hid not himself, nor did he wish to flee from the judge:

For with light was he imbued, and from the darkness he would not flee.

No robber was he, no murderer, no thief,

No child of night: but all his course was run in open day.

Wherefore from his flock should the good shepherd flee,

And leave his fold to be devoured by robbers?

Wherefore should the physician flee, who goes forth to heal diseases,

And to cure souls by the blood of the Son of God?

A fearless countenance did the brave man carry with him, and a great heart;

And to meet death he ran, rejoicing, for Jesus' sake.

He went in, he stood before the judge, saying to him:

I am Habibus, whom you sought: lo! here I stand.

And the pagan trembled, and amazement seized him, and he marvelled at him —

At the man who was not afraid, either of sword or of fire.

While he thought that he was fleeing apace, he entered in and mocked him;

And the judge shook, for he saw him courageous in the very face of death.

A disciple he of that Son of God who said:

"Rise, come, let us go: for he that betrays me lo! Is here."

And to the crucifiers, again, He said: "Whom do you seek?"

They say: "Jesus." And He said to them: "I am He."

The Son of God of His own will came to the cross;

And on Him the martyr looked, and presented himself uncompelled before the judge.

And the pagan beheld him, and was smitten with fear, and was exasperated against him.

His rage was excited, and he began in his fury to put to him questions.

And, as if he had been one who had shed on the ground the blood of the slain,

He proceeded to question the saintly man, but he was not ashamed:

Menacing him, and trying to terrify him, and to frighten him,

And recounting the sufferings which were being prepared by him on his account.

But Habibus, when questioned, was not afraid,

Was not ashamed, and was not frightened by the menaces he heard.

Lifting up his voice, he confessed Jesus, the Son of God—

That he was His servant, and was His priest, and His minister.

At the fury of the pagans, roaring at him like lions,

He trembled not, nor ceased from the confession of the Son of God.

He was scourged, and the scourgings were very dear to him,

Seeing that he bore a little of the stripes of the Son of God.

He was put into bonds, and he looked on his Lord, whom also they had bound;

And his heart rejoiced that in the path of His sufferings he had begun to walk.

He ascended the block, and they tore him with combs, but his soul was radiant with light,

Because he was deemed worthy that on him should come the agony of the sufferings of crucifixion.

In the pathway of death had he set his face to walk,

And what could he desire to find in it but sufferings?

The fire of sacrifice was betrothed to him, and for her did he look;

And she on her part sent him combs, and stripes, and pains, to taste.

All the while that she was coming, she sent him sufferings, that by means of them

He might be prepared, so that when she met him she might not dismay him.

Sufferings purged him, so that, when the blazing fire should put him to the proof,

There might not be any dross found in his choice gold.

And he endured the whole of the pains that came upon him,

That he might have experience of suffering, and in the burning stand like a brave man.

And he accepted rejoicing the sufferings which he had to bear:

For he knew that at their termination he should find death.

And he was not afraid, either of death or of sufferings:

For with that wine of the crucifixion his heart was drunk.

He despised his body, while it was being dragged along by the persecutors;

And his limbs, while they were being torn asunder in bitter agony.

Scourges on his back, combs on his sides, stocks on his feet,

And fire in front of him: still was he brave and full of faith.

They taunted him: Lo! You worship a man;

But he said: A man I worship not,

But God, who took a body and became man:

Him do I worship, because He is God with Him that begot Him.

The faith of Habibus, the martyr, was full of light

And by it was enlightened Edessa, the faithful city.

The daughter of Abgar, whom Addæus betrothed to the crucifixion —

Through it is her light, through it her truth and her faith.

Her king is from it, her martyrs from it, her truth from it;

The teachers also of her faith are from it.

Abgar believed that You are God, the Son of God;

And he received a blessing because of the beauty of his faith.

Sharbil the martyr, son of the Edessæans, more-ever said:

My heart is led captive by God, who became man.

And Habibus the martyr, who also was crowned at Edessa,

Confessed these things: that He took a body and became man;

That He is the Son of God, and also is God, and became man.

Edessa learned from teachers the things that are true:

Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her, the faith;

But to others, who were fraudulent teachers, she would not hearken.

Habibus the martyr, in the ear of Edessa, thus cried aloud

Out of the midst of the fire: A man I worship not,

But God, who took a body and became man

Him do I worship. Thus confessed the martyr with uplifted voice.

From confessors torn with combs, burnt, raised up on the block, slain

And from a righteous king, did Edessa learn the faith,

And she knows our Lord — that He is even God, the Son of God;

She also learned and firmly believed that He took a body and became man.

Not from common scribes did she learn the faith:

Her king taught her, her martyrs taught her; and she firmly believed them:

And, if she be calumniated as having ever worshipped a man,

She points to her martyrs, who died for Him as being God.

A man I worship not, said Habibus,

Because it is written: "Cursed is he that puts his trust in a man."

Forasmuch as He is God, I worship Him, yea submit to be burned

For His sake, nor will I renounce His faith.

This truth has Edessa held fast from her youth,

And in her old age she will not barter it away as a daughter of the poor.

Her righteous king became to her a scribe, and from him she learned

Concerning our Lord — that He is the Son of God, yea God.

Addæus, who brought the bridegroom's ring and put it on her hand,

Betrothed her thus to the Son of God, who is the Only- begotten.

Sharbil the priest, who made trial and proof of all gods,

Died, even as he said, "for God who became man."

Samonas and Gurias, for the sake of the Only- begotten,

Stretched out their necks to receive the stroke, and for Him died, forasmuch as He is God.

And Habibus the martyr, who was teacher of congregations,

Preached of Him, that He took a body and became man.

For a man the martyr would not have submitted to be burned in the fire;

But he was burned "for the sake of God who became man."

And Edessa is witness that thus he confessed while he was being burned:

And from the confession of a martyr that has been burned who is he that can escape?

All minds does faith reduce to silence and despise —

She that is full of light and stoops not to shadows.

She despises him that maligns the Son by denying that He is God;

Him too that says "He took not a body and became man."

In faith which was full of truth he stood upon the fire;

And he became incense, and propitiated with his fragrance the Son of God.

In all his afflictions, and in all his tortures, and in all his sufferings,

Thus did he confess, and thus did he teach the blessed city.

And this truth did Edessa hold fast touching our Lord —

Even that He is God, and of Mary became a man.

And the bride hates him that denies His God-head,

And despises and contemns him that maligns His corporeal nature.

And she recognises Him as One in Godhead and in manhood —

The Only- begotten, whose body is inseparable from Him.

And thus did the daughter of the Parthians learn to believe,

And thus did she firmly hold, and thus does she teach him that listens to her.

The judge, therefore, full of zeal for paganism, commanded

That the martyr should be led forth and burned in the fire which was reserved for him.

And immediately a strap was thrust into his mouth, as though he had been a murderer,

His confession being kept within his heart towards God.

And they hurried him away, and he went out from the judgment-hall, rejoicing

That the hour had come when the crown should be given to his faith.

And there went out with him crowds of people, that they might bear him company,

Looking upon him, not as a dead man accompanied to his burial,

But as a man who was going away that by means of fire he might become a bridegroom,

And that there might be bestowed the crown which was by righteousness reserved for him.

They looked upon him as upon a man entering into battle,

And around him were spears, and lances, and swords, but he vanquished them.

They beheld him going up like a champion from the contest,

And in his triumph chaplets were brought to him by those who beheld.

They looked upon him as he vanquished principalities and powers,

Which all made war with him, and he put them to shame.

The whole congregation of the followers of Christ exulted over him,

Because he raised up the friends of the faith by the sufferings which he bore.

There went forth with him the Church, a bride full of light;

And her face was beaming on the beloved martyr who was united to her.

Then did his mother, because it was the marriage-feast for her son,

Deck herself in garments nobler than her wont.

Since sordid raiment suited not the banquet-hall,

In magnificent attire all white she clad herself right tastefully.

Hither to the battle came down love to fight

In the mother's soul— the love of nature, and the love of God.

She looked upon her son as he went forth to be put into the flame;

And, forasmuch as there was in her the love of the Lord, she suffered not.

The yearnings of her mother's womb cried out on behalf of its fruit;

But faith silenced them, so that their tumult ceased.

Nature shrieked over the limb which was severed from her;

But the love of the Lord intoxicated the soul, that she should not perceive it.

Nature loved, but the love of the Lord did conquer in the strife

Within the soul of the mother, that she should not grieve for her beloved.

And instead of suffering, her heart was filled with all emotions of joy;

And, instead of mourning, she went forth in splendid apparel.

And she accompanied him as he went out to be burned, and was elate,

Because the love of the Lord vanquished that of nature.

And clad in white, as for a bridegroom, she made a marriage-feast —

She the mother of the martyr, and was blithe because of him.

"Samonas the Second" may we call this blessed one:

Since, had seven been burned instead of one, she had been well content.

One she had, and she gave him to be food for the fire;

And, even as that one, if she had had seven, she had given them all.

He was cast into the fire, and the blaze kindled around him;

And his mother looked on, and grieved not at his burning.

Another eye, which gazes upon the things unseen,

Was in her soul, and by reason of this she exulted when he was being burned.

On the gems of light which are in martyrs' crowns she looked,

And on the glory which is laid up for them after their sufferings;

And on the promised blessings which they inherit yonder through their afflictions,

And on the Son of God who clothes their limbs with light;

And on the manifold beauties of that kingdom which shall not be dissolved,

And on the ample door which is opened for them to enter in to God.

On these did the martyr's mother look when he was being burned,

And she rejoiced, she exalted, and in white did she go forth with him.

She looked upon him while the fire consumed his frame,

And, forasmuch as his crown was very noble, she grieved not.

The sweet root was thrown into the fire, upon the coals;

And it turned to incense, and cleansed the air from pollution.

With the fumes of sacrifice had the air been polluted,

And by the burning of this martyr was it cleansed.

The firmament was fetid with the exhalations from the altars;

And there rose up the sweet perfume of the martyr, and it grew sweet thereby.

And the sacrifices ceased, and there was peace in the assemblies;

And the sword was blunted, that it should no more lay waste the friends of Christ.

With Sharbil it began, with Habibus it ended, in our land;

And from that time even until now not one has it slain, since he was burned.

Constantine, chief of conquerors, took the empire,

And the cross has trampled on the diadem of the emperor, and is set upon his head.

Broken is the lofty horn of idolatry,

And from the burning of the martyr even until now not one has it pierced.

His smoke arose, and it became incense to the Godhead;

And by it was the air purged which was tainted by paganism,

And by his burning was the whole land cleansed:

Blessed be he that gave him a crown, and glory, and a good name!

Homily on Gurias and Samonas (Mar Jacob of Serugh)

Homily on Gurias and Samonas

By Mar Jacob of Serugh

Samonas and Gurias, martyrs who made themselves illustrious in their afflictions,

Have in love required of me to tell of their illustrious deeds.

To champions of the faith the doctrine calls me,

That I should go and behold their contests and their crowns.

Children of the right hand, who have done battle against the left,

Have called me this day to recite the marvellous tale of their conflicts:—

Fasting: "As Old As Humanity"

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

We have entered the Christmas season preparing, through prayer and fasting according to the tradition of our Holy Church, to celebrate the Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Who today talks about fasting? Who cares about this ancient institution of our Church? Few perhaps, such as clergy, monastics and certain others whom the majority call outdated and backward.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Saint Philip the Apostle Resource Page

St. Philip the Apostle (Feast Day - November 14)


Your feet were fastened on the cross O Philip,
Those feet that were washed by the Savior are avenged.
Philip on the fourteenth was lifted upside down.

Holy Apostle Philip, One of the Twelve

Saint Philip the Apostle as a Model for our Lives

The Fate of the Relics of the Apostle Philip

The Heart in the Hesychastic Treatises of St Gregory Palamas

The Heart in the Hesychastic Treatises of St Gregory Palamas

By Monk Vartholomaeos


In a Russian village not so long ago, a pious middle-aged Russian woman, striving to live a conscientious Christian life, went to see her priest for confession. Having listened to her for a while, and perceiving her general instability of thought and therefore also life, the elderly priest took a small metal cross into his hand, and in a friendly, but stern manner, struck the woman twice upon the head saying, ‘you silly woman, go inside, go inside, and you will find rest’. This unorthodox behaviour of the confessor, in a strange way, is a most practical and direct way to express what we mean by the term Hesychasm.

How I Discovered the Tomb of the Apostle Philip: Interview With Archaeologist Francesco D’Andria

How I Discovered the Tomb of the Apostle Philip

Interview With Archaeologist Francesco D’Andria

By Renzo Allegri
May 02, 2012

Last summer the news broke that the Apostle Philip’s tomb was found at Hierapolis, in Phrygia. “The value of this finding is undoubtedly of a very high level,” says Professor Francesco D’Andria, director of the archaeological mission that made the discovery.

D’Andria teaches archaeology at the University of Salento-Lecce and is the director of the School of Specialization in Archaeology of that university. He has been working in Hierapolis for more than 30 years, looking for St. Philip’s tomb and, since the year 2000, he has been director of this mission.

We asked Professor D’Andria to speak to us about St. Philip and the exceptional finding that he and his team of researchers carried out. “Historical news on Saint Philip is scarce,” said D’Andria. “From the Gospels we know that he was a native of Bethsaida, on Lake Gennesaret; hence, he belonged to a family of fishermen. John is the only evangelist who mentions him several times. In the first chapter of his Gospel, he recounts that Philip entered the group of the apostles from the beginning of Jesus’ public life, called directly by the Master. In the order of calling, he is the fifth after James, John, Andrew and Peter. In the sixth chapter, when he recounts the miracle of the multiplication of loaves, John says that, before doing this miracle, Jesus turned to Philip and asked him how all those people could be fed, and Philip answered that 200 denarii worth of bread would not be sufficient even to give a piece to each one. And in Chapter 12, John says that after Jesus’ triumphal entrance in Jerusalem, some Greeks wished to speak with the Master and went to Philip. And during the Last Supper, when Jesus spoke of the Father (“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also”), Philip said: “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied.” From the Acts of the Apostles we know that Philip was present with the others at the moment of Jesus’ Ascension and on the day of Pentecost, when the descent of the Holy Spirit took place. Written information ceases on that day. All the rest comes from Tradition.”

ZENIT: What does Tradition say in addition?

D’Andria: After Jesus’ death, the Apostles dispersed through the world to spread the Gospel message. And, according to Tradition and ancient documents written by the Holy Fathers, we know that Philip carried out his mission in Scizia, in Lydia, and in the last days of his life, in Hierapolis, in Phrygia. In a letter written to Pope Victor I, Polycrates, who toward the end of the second century was bishop of Ephesus, recalls the important personalities of his Church, among them the Apostles Philip and John. Of Philip, he said: “He was one of the twelve Apostles and died in Hierapolis, as did two of his daughters who grew old in virginity … Another daughter of his … was buried in Ephesus.”

“All scholars agree in considering that Polycrates’ information is absolutely reliable. The Letter, which dates back to about 190 after Christ, 100 years after Philip’s death, is a fundamental document for relations between the Latin and the Greek Church

It refers to the dispute about the date of the celebration of Easter. And in that letter, Polycrates, who was patriarch of the Greek Church, claims the nobility of the origins of the Church in Asia, stating that just as the trophies (mortal remains) of Peter and Paul are in Rome, the tombs of the Apostles Philip and John are in Asia. Moreover, from that letter we know that Philip spent the last years of his life in Hierapolis, with two of his three daughters, who undoubtedly helped him in his work of evangelization. In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius of Caesarea says that Papias, who was bishop of Hierapolis at the beginning of the third century, knew Philip’s daughters and from them learned important details of the Apostle’s life, among them also the account of a tremendous miracle: the resurrection of a dead man.”

ZENIT: Is it known how and when the Apostle died?

D’Andria: Most of the ancient documents state that Philip died in Hierapolis, in the year 80 after Christ, when he was about 85. He died a martyr for his faith, crucified upside down like St. Peter. He was buried in Hierapolis. In the ancient necropolis of that city an inscription was found that alludes to a church dedicated to St. Philip. On an unspecified date, Philip’s body was taken to Constantinople to remove it from the danger of profanation by barbarians. And in the sixth century, under Pope Pelagius I, it was taken to Rome and buried, next to the Apostle James, in a church built specifically for them. The Byzantine-style church, which was called “of Sts. James and Philip,” was transformed in 1500 into a magnificent Renaissance church, which is the present one called “Of the Holy Apostles.”

ZENIT: When did research begin on St. Philip’s tomb in Hierapolis?

D’Andria: In 1957, thanks to professor Paolo Verzone, who taught engineering at Turin’s Polytechnic and was very passionate about archaeological research. An agreement was stipulated between the Italian and Turkish Republics, which enabled our team of archaeologists to carry out searches in Hierapolis. Professor Verzone was the first director of that mission. He began immediately, of course, to look for the Apostle Philip’s tomb. He concentrated the excavations on a monument that was already visible in part and known as the church of St. Philip, and he discovered an extraordinary octagonal church, a genuine masterpiece of Byzantine architecture of the fifth century, with wonderful arches in travertine stone.

All this complex of constructions made with so much care and detail made one think that it was a great church of pilgrimage, a very important shrine, and Professor Verzone identified it as the Martyrion, namely the martyrial church of St. Philip. And therefore he thought that it was built on the saint’s tomb. Hence he had several excavations carried out in the area of the main altar, but he never found anything that made one think of a tomb.

I myself thought the tomb was in the area of the church, but in 2000, when I became director of the Italian archaeological mission of Hierapolis, by concession of the Ministry of Culture of Turkey, I changed my opinion.


D’Andria: All the excavations carried out over so many years had no result. I also carried out research through geo-physical explorations, that is, special explorations of the subsoil, and not obtaining anything, I was convinced we had to look elsewhere, still in the same area but in another direction.

ZENIT: And towards what did you direct your research?

D’Andria: My collaborators and I studied a series of satellite photos of the area carefully, and the observations of a group of brave topographers of the CNR-IBAM, directed by Giuseppe Scardozzi, and we understood that the Martyrion, the octagonal church was the center of a large and well-developed devotional complex. We identified a great processional street that took the pilgrims of the city to the octagonal church, the Martyrion at the top of the hill, the remains of a bridge that enabled pilgrims to go across a valley through which a torrent flowed; we say that at the foot of the hill there were stairs in travertine stone, with wide ascending steps that led to the summit.

At the bottom of the stairs we identified another octagonal building that could not be seen from the surface but only on satellite photos. We excavated around that building and realized it was a thermal complex.

This was an enlightening discovery that made us understand that the whole hill was part of a course of pilgrimage with several stages. Continuing our excavations, we found another flight of steps that led directly to the Martyrion, and on the Square, next to the Martyrion, there was a fountain where pilgrims did their ablutions with water, and near there a small plain, in front of the Martyrion, where there were vestiges of buildings. Professor Verzone had not dared to carry out an excavation in that area because it was an immense heap of stones. In 2010, we began to do some cleaning and elements of extreme importance came to light.

ZENIT: Of what sort?

D’Andria: A marble architrave of a ciborium with a monogram on which the name Theodosius could be read. I thought it was the name of the emperor and so that architrave made it possible to date the martyrial church between the fourth and fifth centuries. Then, little by little we found vestiges of an apse. Excavating and cleaning the floor, a great church came to light. Whereas the floor of the Martyrion was octagonal, this floor was that of a basilica, with three naves. A stupendous church with marble capitals refined decorations, crosses, friezes, plant branches, stylized palms in the niches and a central pavement with marble tesserae with colored geometrical motifs: all referable to the fifth century, namely, the age of the other church, the Martyrion. However, at the center of this wonderful construction what enthused and moved us was something disconcerting that left us breathless.

ZENIT: And it was?

D’Andria: A typical Roman tomb that went back to the first century after Christ. In a certain sense, its presence could be justified by the fact that in that area, before Christians built the proto-Byzantine shrine, there was a Roman necropolis. However, examining its position carefully, we realized that that Roman tomb was at the center of the church. Hence, in the fifth century the church had been built precisely around that pagan Roman tomb, to protect it, because, evidently, that tomb was extremely important. And immediately we thought that perhaps that could be the tomb where the body of St. Philip was placed after his death.

ZENIT: And did you find confirmations of this supposition?

D’Andria: Indeed. In the summer of 2011, we carried out extensive excavation in the area of this church with the coordination of Piera Caggia, research archaeologist of the IBAM-CNR, and extraordinary elements emerged that confirmed are suppositions fully. The tomb was included in a structure in which there is a platform that is reached by a marble staircase. Pilgrims, entering in the narthex, went up to the higher part of the tomb, where there was a place for prayer and they went down on the opposite side. And we saw that the marble surface of the steps was completely consumed by the steps of thousands upon thousands of people. Hence, the tomb received an extraordinary tribute of veneration.

On the façade of the tomb, near the entrance, there are nail holes which undoubtedly served to support an applied metallic locking device. Moreover, there are grooves in the pavement that make one think of an additional wooden door: all precautions that indicate that in that tomb there was an inestimable treasure, namely, the apostle’s body.

And on the façade, on the walls there are numerous graffiti with crosses, which in some way have consecrated the pagan tomb.

Excavating next to the tomb we found water baths for individual immersions, which undoubtedly served for healings. After venerating the tomb, sick pilgrims were submerged in the baths exactly as happens in Lourdes.

However, the main — I would say mathematical — confirmation which attests, without a shadow of a doubt, that that construction is really St. Philip’s tomb comes from a small object that is in the Museum of Richmond in the United States. An object in which there are images that up to now could not be fully deciphered, whereas now they have an obvious significance.

ZENIT: What object is it?

D’Andria: it is a bronze seal about 10 centimeters (four inches) in diameter, which served to authenticate St. Philip’s bread to be distributed to pilgrims. Icons have been found that represent St. Philip with a large loaf in his hand. And, to be distinguished from ordinary bread, this bread was marked with the seal so that pilgrims would know that it was a special bread, to be kept with devotion.

There are images on the seal. There is the figure of a saint with a pilgrims’ cloak and an inscription that says “Saint Philip.” On the border is a phrase in Greek, an ancient phrase of praise to God: Agios o Theos, agios ischyros, agios athanatos, eleison imas (Holy God, strong Holy One, immortal Holy One, have mercy on us). All the specialists of Byzantine history who know that seal have always said that it came from Hierapolis. However, what is most extraordinary is the fact that the figure of the saint is presented between two buildings: the one on the left is covered by a cupola, and it is understood that it represents the octagonal Martyrion; the one on the right of the saint, has a roof like the one of the church of three naves which we have now discovered. The two buildings are at the top of a stairway. It seems that it was an image of the complex then existing around St. Philip’s tomb. A photograph made in the sixth century. Moreover, in the image of the seal there is an emblematic element: a lamp hanging at the entrance, typical signs that served to indicate a saint’s sepulcher. Hence, already indicated in that seal is that the tomb was in the basilica church and not in the Martyrion.

ZENIT: You have made all these discoveries in recent times.

D’Andria: I would say very recent times. We did so between 2010 and 2011. Above all 2011 was the year of the greatest emotions for us: we discovered the second church and Philip’s tomb. We concluded a work begun 55 years ago. The news has gone around the world. And it has attracted scholars and the curious to Hierapolis. Among others, at the end of last August, hundreds of Chinese arrived, as well as numerous Koreans and journalists of several nationalities.

Last Nov. 24, I had the honor of presenting the discovery, at the Pontifical Archaeological Academy of Rome, to scholars and Vatican representatives. Also Bartholomew the patriarch of Constantinople, primate of the Orthodox Church, wished to receive me to know the details of the discovery, and on Nov. 14, feast of St. Philip in the Orthodox Church, he celebrated Mass precisely on the tomb found in Hierapolis. And I was present, 1,000 thousand years, the chants of the Greek liturgy resounded among the ruins of the church.

In the forthcoming months, we will take up the works again and I am certain that other important surprises await us.

An Orthodox Evaluation of Certain Teachings in the Writings of John Scotus Eriugena in Light of the Theology of St Gregory Palamas

By Father Geoffrey Ready


He makes a pathetic and not undignified figure, this eager, slightly-built Irishman,
with his subtle mind, his studious habits, his deeply reverent spirit,
his almost fanatical devotion to the wise men of former days,
Pagan or Christian, who had lived in the light of a wider civilisation:
called upon to fight the battles of the West with arms forged in the East,
and reprimanded even in the hour of conquest for having transgressed the rules of the field.

Alice Gardner, Studies in John the Scot.

He deviated from the path of the Latins
while he kept his eyes intently fixed on the Greeks;
wherefore he was reputed an heretic.

William of Malmesbury, de Pontificibus.

John Scotus Eriugena stands as a remarkable figure in the spiritual history of the Christian West. His native Ireland was insula sanctorum — the "Isle of the Saints," where Orthodox Christianity, planted by Saint Pádraig in the fifth century, had taken such root that it had created an entire monastic culture and produced countless thousands of glorified saints. By the ninth century, however, the Apostolic and Patristic Tradition of glorification which had transformed Ireland was coming under an attack which would ultimately prove more devastating than those of the Vikings who were by now violently raiding monastic settlements along the Irish coasts.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Chrysostom and the Hostility of the Monks of Constantinople

By J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz

Hostility to John Chrysostom was by no means restricted to members of his clergy. There is evidence that the monks of Constantinople were to a large extent against him. We have no satisfactory account of the origin of this antagonism, because the fact of it was as embarrassing to Palladius as an apologist for Chrysostom, as it was to the biographers of the monks Isaac and Hypatius, who wrote after John had been rehabilitated. Nevertheless, there can be no question about the hostile attitude of the Constantinopolitan monks. Palladius described Isaac as the leader of false monks, who spent all his time abusing bishops, and as one of the principal conspirators against John. In fact Isaac was very unlikely to represent only himself when he took so prominent a part in the attack on Chrysostom. At the trial Isaac produced his own list of seventeen charges, and he was one of the men who brought the final summons for John to appear before the Synod. One of the charges was that Chrysostom had caused a lot of unpleasantness to Isaac personally. Sozomen explains the cause of this hostility: John had several disputes with many of the monks, particularly with Isaac. He highly commended those who remained in quietude in the monasteries and practiced philosophy there, but the monks who went out of doors and made their appearance in the city he reproached and regarded as insulting philosophy. For these causes he incurred the hatred of the clergy and of many of the monks, who called him a hard, passionate, morose, and arrogant man. They therefore attempted to bring his life into disrepute, by stating confidently that he would 'eat with no one, and that he refused every invitation to a meal'.

St. John Chrysostom: The Prophet of Charity

By Fr. George Florovsky

Chrysostom was a powerful preacher. He was fond of preaching, and regarded preaching as the duty of a Christian minister. Priesthood is authority, but it is authority of word and conviction. This is the distinctive mark of Christian power. Kings compel, and pastors convince. The former act by orders, the latter by exhortations. Pastors appeal to human freedom, to human will and call for decisions. As Chrysostom used to say himself, "We have to accomplish the salvation of men by word, meekness, and exhortation." The whole meaning of human life for Chrysostom was in that it was, and had to be, a life in freedom, and therefore a life of service. In his preaching he spoke persistently about freedom and decision. Freedom was for him an image of God in man. Christ came, as Chrysostom used to remind, precisely to heal the will of man. God always acts in such a way as not to destroy our own freedom. God Himself acts by calls and exhortations, not by compulsion. He shows the right way, calls and invites, and warns against the dangers of wickedness, but does not constrain. Christian pastors must act accordingly. By temperament, Chrysostom was rather a maximalist, sharp and rigoristic, but he was always against compulsion, even in the struggle with heretics. Christians are forbidden, he used to insist, to apply violence even for good aims: "Our warfare does not make the living dead, but rather makes the dead to live, because it is conducted in the spirit of meekness and humility. I persecute by word, not by acts. I persecute heresy, not heretics. It is mine more to be persecuted, than to persecute. So Christ was victorious as a Crucified, and not as a crucifier." The strength of Christianity was for him in humility and toleration, not in power. One had to be strict about oneself, and meek to the others.

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