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December 31, 2019

Christmas, the Most Moving Feast

By Archimandrite Elisaios, 
Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra

The feast of Christmas has come round again, and, according to Alexandros Papadiamantis, ‘If Easter is the brightest of the Christian feasts, Christmas is the most moving’. In both the Vigil for 25 December and in the Divine Liturgy on that day, we’ll hymn and recreate this great event of the Nativity and Incarnation of God the Word, Who, for our sake became like us and mingled with us. Christmas has, in fact, become a source of inspiration in all areas of the spirit and of culture.

Saint Kyriakos of Bisericani (+ 1660)

St. Kyriakos of Bisericani (Feast Day - October 1 and December 31)

Venerable Kyriakos of Bisericani is one of Romania’s greatest ascetics, and in his life he was like the great Fathers of the Egyptian desert.

He lived in the Bisericani Monastery in Neamt at the beginning of the seventeenth century, which then had more than a hundred monks. Longing for a life of solitude, Saint Kyriakos went to live in a cave at Mount Simon and remained there for sixty years.

Life of Saint Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

Blessed Theophylact was born in the mid eleventh century, in the city of Chalcis, located on the Euripus Strait (which separates the island of Euboea from the Greek mainland). In a letter to the brother of Empress Maria, he mentions his relatives in Euripus, and one ancient list of Bulgarian archbishops directly identifies Theophylact as originating from Euripus. It seems that he spent most of his early life in Constantinople: in one of his letters, he calls himself a true Constantinopolitan. In this and other letters, he expresses a devotion to Constantinople, which could only have been acquired by living there a long time.

Blessed Theophylact began his clerical service in Constantinople as one of the deacons of Hagia Sophia, “the Great Church,” as it has been called since the time since it was first completed in 360. These deacons were held in high esteem. As close assistants of the Patriarch, they shared with him almost all the work of his ministry; one helped him manage the patriarchate, while others took turns giving sermons for him. Blessed Theophylact was among the latter and held the title of “Rhetorician of the Great Church.” It was his responsibility to explain the Scriptures and to write instructive sermons on behalf of the Patriarch. In one document dating from this period, Blessed Theophylact is named “Master of Rhetoric”; but that does not necessarily mean that he taught rhetoric to those who were preparing for positions as orators (public speakers). This title of distinction was given to rhetoricians who were particularly noted for their gift for preaching, and therefore could serve as an example for less capable and experienced preachers.

December 30, 2019

Saint Joseph the Betrothed Resource Page

St. Joseph the Betrothed (Feast Day - Sunday After Christmas)


I honor Joseph the betrothed of the Virgin,
As her sole elected guardian.

Synaxarion for Joseph the Betrothed, James the Brother of God and David the Prophet

Sunday After Christmas: Joseph the Betrothed, James the Adelphotheos and King David

The Sunday After the Nativity of Christ

A Homily on the Righteous Joseph

The Silence of Joseph

Saint Amphilochios Makris and the Kathisma of Saint Joseph the Betrothed on the Island of Patmos

In the south of Patmos, at the Bay of Stavros, is the area known as Kouvari. Kalliopi Nikitaki, later known as the Nun Martha and was the sister of Saint Amphilochios Makris (1889-1970), bought this land and had Saint Amphilochios establish a Kathisma (a hermitage with a small chapel that belongs to a monastery), which he dedicated to Saint Joseph the Betrothed.

In the chapel is an icon stand with an icon (116 x 82 cm) of Saint Joseph the Betrothed in his workshop. Under Saint Joseph's figure, which dominates the icon, four scenes are depicted: the birth of Christ (top left), the flight of Joseph and Mary to Egypt (bottom left), Joseph's dream (top right), and Joseph and Mary at the coronation with God the Father blessing them (bottom right). It should also be noted that in the scene of the flight to Egypt, the donkey that carries Mary and the infant Christ, behind which Joseph is walking, is guided by a boy inscribed “James”; obviously, he is no other than James the Lord's brother. The inscription of the icon states that it was made in 1860.

The Church of Saint Joseph the Betrothed and Saint Photini in Evosmos of Thessaloniki

Evosmos, a suburb of Thessaloniki, has a church in the process of being completed dedicated to both Saint Joseph the Betrothed and Saint Photini the Samaritan. In the chapel being used for services is an iconostasis with Joseph the Betrothed situated next to the icon of the Theotokos, and Photini the Samaritan is situated next to Joseph the Betrothed. Here are some of the latest photos.

A Chapel in Cyprus Dedicated to Saint Joseph the Betrothed

In the center of the city of Limassol in Cyprus stands a beautiful and picturesque chapel, unique in its architecture and decoration, dedicated to Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Despite the fact that it adjoins much taller and more modern buildings, this chapel manages to stand out. Following the style of the three-aisled, cruciform church, construction on the chapel began in 2006 and was completed in 2009. Its distinctive feature is the decoration of its exterior walls, alternating rows of red bricks and white stone. The chapel's outer courtyard is paved with a special type of tile imported from China. All around the yard is enclosed with a stone wall and a decorative railing. The result is a unique type of temple, creating a modern image, based on traditional elements of ecclesiastical architecture.

A Church in Crete Dedicated to Saint Joseph the Betrothed

Sfakia is a mountainous area in the southwestern part of the island of Crete, in the Chania regional unit. There, in the village of Vouva, stands what is considered to be the only Orthodox church in Greece dedicated to Saint Joseph the Betrothed. It was built by Sifis Chiotakis, a writer who is involved in the politics of the village and is Vice President of the Thermal Hydraulic Association of Chania. Sifis had a dream to build a church in his village dedicated to Saint Joseph, from whom the name Sifis is derived (it is the most popular name in the area). When researching the matter, he learned that there is no other church in Greece dedicated to Saint Joseph. He therefore gathered all the men of Sfakia named Sifis to help. In all, 25 men named Sifis gathered to help together with 27 men named George, along with many others of the region. Work began on the church in 2007, and it was consecrated on July 25, 2009. Though the feast of Saint Joseph falls on the Sunday after Christmas, the feast of this church is celebrated on the last Saturday of July.

December 29, 2019

A 14th Century Fresco from Mount Athos of Saint Joseph the Betrothed

Old icons of Saint Joseph the Betrothed alone outside a scene from his life used to be rare in Orthodox churches, especially as early as the fourteenth century. But in the katholikon of Pantokratoros Monastery on the Holy Mountain of Athos, which was decorated with frescoes of high artistic quality by the school of Manuel Panselinos during the decade 1360-1370, there is an exception. In the left choir of the katholikon is preserved a fresco from 1363 simply titled "O Mnestoras", meaning "The Betrothed"; this of course is a reference to Joseph the Betrothed.

King Herod's Slaughter of the Innocent Infants (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Herod, seeing himself ridiculed by the Magi, was very angry, and sent to have all the infants two years old and under slaughtered in Bethlehem and its surrounding borders, based on the time he learned from the Magi. The Magi from the East did not actually fool Herod. They did not promise him anything. For it is said in the Gospel: They, having heard the king, went. But the tyrant Herod was accustomed to having his will fulfilled by everyone. Therefore he considered it a mockery that the Magi did not return to Jerusalem to inform him of the Divine Child.

Sunday After Christmas: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Sunday After the Nativity of the Lord

Joseph the Betrothed, James the Brother of God 
and David the Prophet and King

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Psalm 67.35,26
God is wonderful among his saints.
Verse: Bless God in the congregations.

St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 1:11-19


Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.

Exaposteilarion and Doxastikon of the Sixth Resurrection Eothinon Gospel for Sunday Matins

The following hymns from the Sunday Matins service are directly related to the Sixth Eothinon Resurrection Gospel (Luke 24:36-53) read before the Canon, which speaks of Jesus confirming His resurrection from the dead to His disciples, reminding them of His promises, and His ascension into heaven. There are eleven eothina all together, and each Sunday is successively dedicated to one of them, then the cycle starts again. Each of the eleven eothina symbolizes one of the eleven disciples to whom the Lord appeared following His Resurrection.

December 28, 2019

The Symbolism of the Three Gifts of the Magi

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

They who fell before the stars and and worshiped them with fear and terror, now with great joy fall to the earth and worship the living Lord, who has come to earth in order to free them from slavery to the stars and faith in blind fate.

And, having discovered their treasure, they brought him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

They brought him three kinds of gifts, to thereby symbolize unconsciously, the Holy and Life-giving Trinity, in whose name the Child Jesus comes to the people.

The Distributed Gifts of the Three Magi in Mount Athos

As is well known, when the Three Magi visited the Christ Child and His Mother, they presented three very precious gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. In Mount Athos today, it is believed that these precious gifts are still preserved, and are kept in the Monastery of Saint Paul, having been given to them by Empress Maro in the 15th century. The gold consists of 28 pieces of carefully engraved coins of various shapes with different designs and complex artistry, while the frankincense and myrrh are mixtures in the form of spherical beads the size of a small olive.

The Relics of the Three Magi

Crowned Skulls of the Three Magi

The Shrine of the Three Kings, also known as the Tomb of the Three Kings or the Tomb of the Three Magi, is a reliquary traditionally believed to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. It is considered the high point of Mosan art and the largest reliquary in the western world.

According to legend dating to the 12th century, the relics of the Magi were originally situated at Constantinople after being discovered by Saint Helen, but brought to Milan with two small cows which transported a large sarcophagus of marble by Bishop Eustorgius I of Milan in 344, to whom they were entrusted by the Emperor Constans I. Eight centuries later in 1164, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa took the relics of the Magi from the Church of Saint Eustorgio in Milan and gave them to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel. The Three Kings have since attracted a constant stream of pilgrims to Cologne. A part of these relics were returned to the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio of Milan in 1904.

Marble sarcophagus of St. Eustorgius in Milan

Parts of the shrine were designed by the famous medieval goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun, who began work on it in 1180 or 1181. It has elaborate gold sculptures of the prophets and apostles, and scenes from the life of Christ. The shrine was completed circa 1225.

Around 1199, King Otto gave three golden crowns made for the three wise men as a present to the church of Cologne. Because of the importance of the shrine and the cathedral for the later development of the city, the Coat of Arms of Cologne still shows these three crowns symbolizing the Three Kings.

Construction of the present Cologne Cathedral begun in 1248 to house these important relics. The cathedral took 632 years to complete and is now the largest Gothic church in northern Europe.

Shrine of the Three Kings

On July 20, 1864, the shrine was opened, and remains of the Three Kings and the coins of Philip I, Archbishop of Cologne were discovered. An eyewitness report reads:

"In a special compartment of the shrine now there showed - along with remains of ancient old rotten or moulded bandages, most likely byssus, besides pieces of aromatic resins and similar substances - numerous bones of three persons, which under the guidance of several present experts could be assembled into nearly complete bodies: the one in his early youth, the second in his early manhood, the third was rather aged. Two coins, bracteates made of silver and only one side stricken, were adjoined; one, probably from the days of Philipps von Heinsberg, displayed a church, the other showed a cross, accompanied by the sword of jurisdiction, and the crosier [bishop's crook] on either side."

The bones were wrapped in white silk and returned to the shrine.

December 27, 2019

The Divine Economy According to Saint Maximos the Confessor

By St. Maximos the Confessor

1. The Good that is beyond being and beyond the unoriginate is one, the holy unity of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is an infinite union of three infinites. Its principle of being, together with the mode, the nature and the quality of its being, is altogether inaccessible to creatures. For it eludes every intellection of intellective beings, in no way issuing from its natural hidden inwardness, and infinitely transcending the summit of all spiritual knowledge.

2. The substantive and essential Good is that which has no origin, no consummation, no cause of being and no motion whatsoever, so far as its being is concerned, towards any final cause. The goodness to which such terms apply is not substantive since it has an origin, a consummation, a cause of being, and motion, so far as its being is concerned, towards some final cause. Even if what is not being in the substantive sense is said to be, it exists and is said to be by participation, through the will of substantive being.

The Post-Nativity Cappadocian Liturgical Calendar in 380 A.D.

In the late fourth century, the liturgical calendar of feasts looked somewhat differently than it appears today. Christmas was a new feast in many places in the East, with some places celebrating it on December 25th while others continued celebrating it on January 6th. Like many regions of the time, Cappadocia had its own liturgical calendar, which had many similarities to other calendars of the time, though there were slight differences as well. What characterizes just about all of them is that they were trying to establish a certain order and hierarchy. Thus in Cappadocia, the beginning of the liturgical year in 380 was the Nativity of the Lord on December 25th, since this was the "holy of holies and feast of feasts" upon which all other feasts were established. Then followed commemorations of the apostles and prophets, beginning with the Protomartyr Stephen, followed by Peter, Paul and John, then James. This was followed until January 1st when the Shepherds and Teachers began to be commemorated, beginning with the recently reposed Saint Basil the Great.

Saint Stephen the Protomartyr: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Saint Stephen the Protomartyr

December 27th

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 4.
Psalm 18.4,1
Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God.

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 47-60


In those days, Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us." And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. And the high priest said, "Is this so?" And Stephen said: "Brethren and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Depart from your land and from your kindred and go into the land which I will show you.' Then he departed from the land of the Chaldeans, and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living; yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him in possession and to his posterity after him, though he had no child. "But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with hands; as the prophet says, 'Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool. What house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?' "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did not your fathers persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth against him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God." But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Encomium to the Protomartyr Stephen (St. Hesychios of Jerusalem)

December 26, 2019

The Manifestation of God’s Infinite Love

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

Christmas, which by God’s Grace we’re celebrating again this year, gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into the mystery of God’s love. His gifts to us are manifold and priceless. The greatest of them, however, is the incarnation of His Only-Begotten Son, without which we would still be hopeless prisoners of the devil and of death.

Synaxis of the Theotokos: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Synaxis of the Theotokos

December 26th

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 3.
Luke 1:46-48
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
Verse: For he has regarded the humility of his servant.

St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 2:11-18


Brethren, he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, "I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I, and the children God has given me. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Προκείμενον. Ήχος γ'.
Λουκάν 1:46-48
Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον, καὶ ἠγαλλίασε τὸ πνεῦμά μου ἐπὶ τῷ Θεῷ τῷ σωτῆρί μου.
Στίχ. Ὅτι ἐπέβλεψεν ἐπὶ τὴν ταπείνωσιν τῆς δούλης αὐτοῦ.

Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 2:11-18 τὸ ἀνάγνωσμα


Ἀδελφοί, ὁ ἁγιάζων καὶ οἱ ἁγιαζόμενοι, ἐξ ἑνὸς πάντες· διʼ ἣν αἰτίαν οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται ἀδελφοὺς αὐτοὺς καλεῖν, λέγων, Ἀπαγγελῶ τὸ ὄνομά σου τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς μου, ἐν μέσῳ ἐκκλησίας ὑμνήσω σε. Καὶ πάλιν, Ἐγὼ ἔσομαι πεποιθὼς ἐπʼ αὐτῷ. Καὶ πάλιν, Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ καὶ τὰ παιδία ἅ μοι ἔδωκεν ὁ θεός. Ἐπεὶ οὖν τὰ παιδία κεκοινώνηκεν σαρκός καὶ αἵματος, καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχεν τῶν αὐτῶν, ἵνα διὰ τοῦ θανάτου καταργήσῃ τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν τὸν διάβολον, καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τούτους, ὅσοι φόβῳ θανάτου διὰ παντὸς τοῦ ζῇν ἔνοχοι ἦσαν δουλείας. Οὐ γὰρ δήπου ἀγγέλων ἐπιλαμβάνεται, ἀλλὰ σπέρματος Ἀβραὰμ ἐπιλαμβάνεται. Ὅθεν ὤφειλεν κατὰ πάντα τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ὁμοιωθῆναι, ἵνα ἐλεήμων γένηται καὶ πιστὸς ἀρχιερεὺς τὰ πρὸς τὸν θεόν, εἰς τὸ ἱλάσκεσθαι τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ λαοῦ. Ἐν ᾧ γὰρ πέπονθεν αὐτὸς πειρασθείς, δύναται τοῖς πειραζομένοις βοηθῆσαι.

Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Matthew 2:13-23


When the wise men departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son." Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaos reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."


᾿Αναχωρησάντων δὲ αὐτῶν ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου φαίνεται κατ᾿ ὄναρ τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ λέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ ἕως ἂν εἴπω σοι· μέλλει γὰρ ῾Ηρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό. ῾Ο δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς καὶ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς Αἴγυπτον, καὶ ἦν ἐκεῖ ἕως τῆς τελευτῆς ῾Ηρῴδου, ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· ἐξ Αἰγύπτου ἐκάλεσα τὸν υἱόν μου. Τότε ῾Ηρῴδης ἰδὼν ὅτι ἐνεπαίχθη ὑπὸ τῶν μάγων, ἐθυμώθη λίαν, καὶ ἀποστείλας ἀνεῖλε πάντας τοὺς παῖδας τοὺς ἐν Βηθλεὲμ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ὁρίοις αὐτῆς ἀπὸ διετοῦς καὶ κατωτέρω, κατὰ τὸν χρόνον ὃν ἠκρίβωσε παρὰ τῶν μάγων. τότε ἐπληρώθη τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ ῾Ιερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· φωνὴ ἐν ῾Ραμᾷ ἠκούσθη, θρῆνος καὶ κλαυθμὸς καὶ ὀδυρμὸς πολύς· ῾Ραχὴλ κλαίουσα τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς, καὶ οὐκ ἤθελε παρακληθῆναι, ὅτι οὐκ εἰσίν. Τελευτήσαντος δὲ τοῦ ῾Ηρῴδου ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου κατ᾿ ὄναρ φαίνεται τῷ ᾿Ιωσὴφ ἐν Αἰγύπτῳλέγων· ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ πορεύου εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ· τεθνήκασι γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου. ὁ δὲ ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς γῆν ᾿Ισραήλ. ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι ᾿Αρχέλαος βασιλεύει ἐπὶ τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας ἀντὶ ῾Ηρῴδου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ, ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν· χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ᾿ ὄναρ ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρέτ, ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.

The Early Christian Veneration of the Mother of God in Rome

By Prof. Constantine P. Haralambidis
Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki

The Third Ecumenical Synod in Ephesus of 431 marked a memorable milestone in the history of paying honor through adoration to the Theotokos. With the condemnation of Nestorius and the dogmatic proclamation of the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos, we can say a new wave began of God's people honoring through adoration and artistic manifestations the mother of the second person of the Holy Trinity.

The Orthodox Doctrine of the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God

By St. John of Damascus

(Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Bk. 3, Ch. 12)

Moreover we proclaim the holy Virgin to be in strict truth the Mother of God [Theotokos]. For inasmuch as He who was born of her was true God, she who bare the true God incarnate is the true mother of God. For we hold that God was born of her, not implying that the divinity of the Word received from her the beginning of its being, but meaning that God the Word Himself, Who was begotten of the Father timelessly before the ages, and was with the Father and the Spirit without beginning and through eternity, took up His abode in these last days for the sake of our salvation in the Virgin's womb, and was without change made flesh and born of her. For the holy Virgin did not bare mere man but true God: and not mere God but God incarnate, Who did not bring down His body from Heaven, nor simply passed through the Virgin as channel, but received from her flesh of like essence to our own and subsisting in Himself. For if the body had come down from heaven and had not partaken of our nature, what would have been the use of His becoming man? For the purpose of God the Word becoming man was that the very same nature, which had sinned and fallen and become corrupted, should triumph over the deceiving tyrant and so be freed from corruption, just as the divine apostle puts it, "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" [1 Cor. 15:21]. If the first is true the second must also be true.

December 25, 2019

On the Incarnation of the Word (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

By St. Symeon the New Theologian

The Way in Which the Word Became Flesh

At the creation of our foremother Eve, God took the animate rib from Adam’s side and formed it into a woman. This is why He didn’t breathe into her, as He had done with Adam, but instead, the flesh that had been taken was made into the whole body of a woman. And the first-fruit of the spirit, which was taken at the same time as the animate flesh, was perfected into a living soul, so that another person was made from these two parts together. In precisely the same way, God the Creator and Maker took flesh from the holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, as if from a small piece of leavened dough- that is, from the soul and body together- and united it with His own unapproachable and incomprehensible Divinity. Or rather, He really did unite the whole of the Person of His divinity with our own nature, He compounded it separately with that nature and made it a holy temple to Himself. In this way, the Maker of Adam became irrevocably and immutably a perfect human being.

The Incarnation of God: The Cause of Man's Deification (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

The Incarnation of God: The Cause of Man's Deification

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

The Church Fathers say that God became man in order to make man a god. Man would not be able to attain deification (gr. theosis) if God had not become incarnate.

In the years before Christ, many wise and virtuous people had appeared. For example, the ancient Greeks had reached quite high standards of philosophy about the good and about God. Their philosophy, in fact, contained seeds of the truth, the so-called ‘spermaticos logos’. They were very religious people, after all; they were not at all atheist, as some of our contemporaries are trying to present them, who do not know the facts well. But of course they did not know the true God; they were idolaters, yet very pious and god-fearing people. For this reason, by attempting to remove its faith in God from the psyche of our devout people, even without their consent, educators, teachers, politicians and civil governors act in a way inconsistent to the memory of the Greek nation, and so they commit "hubris" (gr. hybris) in the ancient meaning of the word. In essence, they attempt its de-hellenization, because the Tradition of the Greeks, throughout our ancient, recent and modern history, is a Tradition of piety and respect for God, on which all the worldwide cultural contribution of Hellenism was and is based.

The Incarnation and Redemption (Fr. George Florovsky)

The Incarnation and Redemption

Fr. George Florovsky

"The Word became flesh": in this is the ultimate joy of the Christian faith. In this is the fullness of Revelation. The Same Incarnate Lord is both perfect God and perfect man. The full significance and the ultimate purpose of human existence is revealed and realized in and through the Incarnation. He came down from Heaven to redeem the earth, to unite man with God for ever. "And became man." The new age has been initiated. We count now the "anni Domini!" As St. Irenaeus wrote: "the Son of God became the Son of Man, that man also might become the son of God."1 Not only is the original fullness of human nature restored or re-established in the Incarnation. Not only does human nature return to its once lost communion with God. The Incarnation is also the new Revelation, the new and further step. The first Adam was a living soul. But the last Adam is the Lord from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:47). And in the Incarnation of the Word human nature was not merely anointed with a superabundant overflowing of Grace, but was assumed into an intimate and hypostatical unity with the Divinity itself. In that lifting up of human nature into an everlasting communion with the Divine Life, the Fathers of the early Church unanimously saw the very essence of salvation, the basis of the whole redeeming work of Christ. "That is saved which is united with God," says St. Gregory of Nazianzus. And what was not united could not be saved at all. This was his chief reason for insisting, against Apollinarius,2 on the fullness of human nature, assumed by the Only Begotten in the Incarnation. This was the fundamental motive in the whole of early theology, in St. Irenaeus, St. Athanasius, the Cappa-docian Fathers, St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Maximus the Confessor. The whole history of Christological dogma was determined by this fundamental conception: the Incarnation of the Word as Redemption. In the Incarnation human history is completed. God’s eternal will is accomplished, "the mystery from eternity hidden and to angels unknown." The days of expectation are over. The Promised and the Expected has come. And from henceforth, to use the phrase of St. Paul, the life of man "is hid with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3).

Eighth Homily of Saint Leo the Great on the Nativity of Christ

Homily on the Nativity of Christ

Sermon 28

By St. Leo the Great

I. The Incarnation an Unceasing Source of Joy

Though all the divine utterances exhort us, dearly beloved, to "rejoice in the Lord always" [Philippians 4:4], yet today we are no doubt incited to a full spiritual joy, when the mystery of the Lord's nativity is shining brightly upon us , so that we may have recourse to that unutterable condescension of the Divine Mercy, whereby the Creator of men deigned to become man, and be found ourselves in His nature whom we worship in ours. For God the Son of God, the only-begotten of the eternal and not-begotten Father, remaining eternal "in the form of God," and unchangeably and without time possessing the property of being no way different to the Father He received "the form of a slave" without loss of His own majesty, that He might advance us to His state and not lower Himself to ours. Hence both natures abiding in possession of their own properties such unity is the result of the union that whatever of Godhead is there is inseparable from the manhood: and whatever of manhood, is indivisible from the Godhead.

Nativity of Christ: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Matthew 1:18-25


The birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

December 24, 2019

Christmas Traditions Resource Page

Finding Christmas

Christmas... What is Missing?

1 Corinthians 13 - A Christmas Version

Christmas Around the World Resource Page

Christmas in Greece 

Three Magi Resource Page

Magi and Magicians

The Magi and Astrology

The Veneration of the Magi in Iconography

The Symbolism of the Three Gifts of the Magi

The Relics of the Three Magi

The Three Gifts of the Magi On Mount Athos

The Distributed Gifts of the Three Magi in Mount Athos

The Gifts of the Magi Brought to Aitoloakarnanias (Photos / Video)

Russians Come In Waves To Venerate the Gifts of the Magi (photos + videos)

More Than 150,000 Faithful Venerate the Gifts of the Magi ... So Far

Christmas Art and Iconography Resource Page

Origins of the Icon of the Nativity of Christ

The Veneration of the Magi in Iconography

Two Cypriot Icons of the Nativity of Christ

The Controversy Over the Bathing Scene in Nativity Icons of the Holy Mountain

A Byzantine Nativity Icon that Depicts a Belief in Witchcraft and the Evil Eye

Jesus Christ: The Reclining Lion of Judah

An Icon of Christ With an Earring

A Recent Appearance of the Theotokos in Bethlehem

The Miraculous Icon of the Most Holy Virgin of Bethlehem

The Heretical Icon of the "Holy Family"

Christmas Theological Reflections Resource Page

Patriarch Pavle of Serbia

Patriarch Pavle on the Holy Nativity of Christ

Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece

The Last Christmas Message of the Late Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Messiah in the Old and New Testaments

Christmas - the Capital of Feasts

The Divine Kenosis

A Message To Heaven and a Message From Heaven

Christmas Christology: An Interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Christ Was Born Not to Establish a New Religion

The Birth of Christ Celebrates the End of the Sickness of Religion

Christmas Despair and Hope


Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria 
Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopolis

Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Archimandrite George Kapsanis

Awaiting Christmas (Archim. George Kapsanis)

The Incarnation of God: The Cause of Man's Deification (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

The Manifestation of God’s Infinite Love

Archimandrite Ephraim of Vatopaidi

The Incarnation of God as the Opposite to Today’s Sinfulness

Archimandrite Elisaios of Simonopetra

Christmas, the Most Moving Feast

Archimandrite Chrysostomos Papathanasiou

Christianity, the Light of Humanity

Archimandrite Iakovos Kanakis

"Undecorating" the Christmas Tree

Father George Florovsky

The Incarnation and Redemption (Fr. George Florovsky)

Father George Metallinos

The Truth About Christmas and the Myth-Making of Christmas

Father George Dragas

Lecture On the Incarnation (Fr. George Dragas)

Father Cherubim Veletza

Have You Prepared Your Manger?

Father Haralambos Papadopoulos

The Least Who Yearn To Become Mangers

Panagiotis Chrestou  

Why Was Jesus Born In Bethlehem?

What Does "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" Mean?

Comparing the First and Second Coming of Christ

The Birth of John the Baptist and the Summer Solstice

Basil Skiadas

God Upon the Earth

Alexis Alexadrou

Finding Christmas

Jeremy Lott

The Case Against the Case Against the Virgin Birth


Christmas... What is Missing?

Stephen Beale

The Incarnation: God’s Covert Strike Against Satan

Michael Hansen

Incarnation & New Creation

Lori Harfenist

Does Christmas Have Anything To Do With Jesus?


No Room In The Inn? Born In A Manger?

A Resource Page on the Nativity of Christ in the Church Fathers, Saints and Teachers


Orthodox Christmas Reflection (1)

Orthodox Christmas Reflection (2)

Orthodox Christmas Reflection (3)

Why Jesus Came Into the World

The Patristic Understanding of the Virgin Birth of Christ

Did Christ Have A Fallen Human Nature?

The Erythraean Sibyl and Her Prophetic Acrostic Concerning the Coming of Christ

All The Saints Gather To Worship The Incarnate God

Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord Resource Page

Forefeast of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec. 20 - 24)

December 23, 2019

Seventh Homily of Saint Leo the Great on the Nativity of Christ

Homily on the Nativity of Christ

Sermon 27

By St. Leo the Great

I. It is Equally Dangerous to Deny the Godhead or the Manhood in Christ

He is a true and devout worshiper, dearly-beloved, of today's festival who thinks nothing that is either false about the Lord's Incarnation or unworthy about His Godhead. For it is an equally dangerous evil to deny in Him the reality of our nature and the equality with the Father in glory. When, therefore, we attempt to understand the mystery of Christ's nativity, wherein He was born of the Virgin-mother, let all the clouds of earthly reasonings be driven far away and the smoke of worldly wisdom be purged from the eyes of illuminated faith: for the authority on which we trust is divine, the teaching which we follow is divine. Inasmuch as whether it be the testimony of the Law, or the oracles of the prophets, or the trumpet of the gospel to which we apply our inward ear, that is true which the blessed John full of the Holy Spirit uttered with his voice of thunder : "in the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was nothing made. " And similarly is it true what the same preacher added: "the Word became flesh and dwelt in us: and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. " Therefore in both natures it is the same Son of God taking what is ours and not losing what is His own; renewing man in His manhood, but enduring unchangeable in Himself. For the Godhead which is His in common with the Father underwent no loss of omnipotence, nor did the "form of a slave" do despite to the "form of God," because the supreme and eternal Essence, which lowered Itself for the salvation of mankind, transferred us into Its glory, but did not cease to be what It was. And hence when the Only-begotten of God confesses Himself less than the Father , and yet calls Himself equal with Him , He demonstrates the reality of both forms in Himself: so that the inequality proves the human nature, and the equality the Divine.