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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Best of March 2020 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)


Below is the monthly review for the month of March 2020 of the ten most popular articles on johnsanidopoulos.com, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity. As for the most popular post from all the websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center for the month of March, that honor goes to:



JohnSanidopoulos.com

1. "Those Who Do Not Believe in the Power of Holy Communion Should Not Receive It" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

2. The Prayers Prayed by the Athonite Monks in Their Vigil Against the Coronavirus

3. Practical Advice on Administering Holy Communion in Time of Plague

4. The Coronavirus and the Fear of Death (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

5. What a Greek Bishop Did When an Epidemic of Cholera Ravaged a Community in 1854

Saint Jonah the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (+ 1461)

St. Jonah of Moscow (Feast Day - March 31)

Saint Jonah was born in the city of Galich into a pious Christian family. His pious father was named Theodore. The youth received monastic tonsure at the Annunciation Monastery in Galich when he was only twelve years old. From there, he transferred to the Moscow Simonov Monastery, where he fulfilled various obediences for many years.

Once, Saint Photius, Metropolitan of Moscow (May 27), visited the Simonov Monastery. After the Molieben, he blessed the archimandrite and brethren, and also wished to bless those monks who were fulfilling their obediences in the monastery.

Saint Hypatius the Healer of the Kiev Caves

St. Hypatius the Healer of the Caves (Feast Day - March 31)

In 1240 the Golden Horde of Batu Khan invaded Russia, and brought the Kiev Caves Lavra to ruin, leaving it desolate for many years, though some monks still lived there. It was at this time that Venerable Hypatius the Healer of the Kiev Caves Lavra became a vessel of divine grace through his rigorous fasting of only eating bread and water and his prayerful vigilance. By night he stood at prayer, slept very little, and ate only bread and water. He devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick, having received from God the gift of healing. Those sick with various illnesses often hastened to his prayerful intercession. His incorrupt relics rest in the Theodosius (Far) Caves. Now, they who resort with faith in their illnesses to his relics receive healing.

Holy Martyr Theophilos of Crete with his Wife and Children

St. Theophilos of Crete and Those With Him (Feast Day - March 31)

All we know about Saint Theophilos of Crete comes to us from Parisian Codex 1575 at Great Lavra (Η 76, Δ 25 και Δ 45), where there is a complete Divine Office dedicated to him. There we learn that Saint Theophilos was martyred in Crete with his wife and children. Their martyrdom probably took place in early Christian times during one of the persecutions. They are commemorated together on March 31st.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 22 - Tuesday


Isaiah 40:18-31

Thus says the Lord: To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? The idol! a workman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts for it silver chains. He who is impoverished chooses for an offering wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an image that will not move.

Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nought, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.

Monday, March 30, 2020

How We Can Be Sanctified by Holy Communion Even If We Are Unable to Receive It

St. Onouphrios being communed by an angel in the desert.

By John Sanidopoulos

According to the words of Christ, His Body and Blood are a source of life:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:51)

Blessed Matrenushka the Barefooted of St. Petersburg, the Fool for Christ (+ 1911)


Matrona (Matrenushka) Petrovna Mylnikova was born in 1814 to a peasant family in the Kostroma province. Her parents Peter and Agafia also had three sons named Macarius, Allexander and Ivan. Nothing is known about her childhood except that she was never educated.

She married Egor Mylnikov, a tradesman of the city of Kostroma. The family had their own house and grocery store. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 her husband was drafted into the army, and Matronushka went with him to the front where she served as a nurse. Even then, her humble soul, which received from God a great gift of compassion, was fully manifested. She helped everyone as she could, distributing all her meager belongings to poor soldiers.

Saint Gabriel (Banulescu-Bodoni), Archbishop of Chisinau and Hotin (+ 1821)

St. Gabriel Banulescu-Bodoni (Feast Day - March 30)

Born in 1746 at Bistrita, Transylvania to a family originating from Campulung in Moldavia, Banulescu studied at the Kiev Theological Academy (1771–1773), then at the Greek-language academy on the Island of Patmos, Smyrna and the Athonite Academy in Vatopaidi (1773–1786). At Patmos, he befriended Nikephoros Theotokis, a Greek cleric and enlightenment figure, with whom he taught at the Princely Academy of Iasi in 1776.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 21 - Monday


Isaiah 37:33-38:6

"Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city, or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield, or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, says the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." And the angel of the Lord went forth, and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went home and dwelt at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, slew him with the sword, and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

One of the Greatest Byzantine Music Moments of the 20th Century


In 1970, when Protopsaltis Photios Ketsetzis was in his early 20's, before he was drafted into the army and before he was married, after recently completing his academic studies in Byzantine Music, and residing in Athens where he was slowly making a name for himself in the world of Byzantine Music, he joined the fifty-plus member choir of Protopsaltis Thrasyvoulos Stanitsas, as one of its youngest members. Stanitsas was most noteworthy as being the Protopsaltis of the Great Church of Constantinople from 1960 until 1964, when he was expelled from Turkey by the Turkish authorities, along with many other Greeks living in Constantinople. He lived and chanted on the island of Chios for a year, moved to Beirut, and finally chanted in Athens in the Church of Saint Demetrios from 1966 until his retirement in 1981. Along with Konstantinos Pringos before him, Thrasyvoulos Stanitsas is known for bringing the Patriarchal style of chanting to Greece and because of his many recordings he is still known as its primary teacher. When Ketsetzis joined his choir in 1970, it was this Patriarchal style of chanting and choir directing from Constantinople that he credits as a major part of his own personal education in the art of Byzantine Music.

Homily on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

Today, beloved brothers and sisters, was read the Gospel passage from the Evangelist Mark on how a father asked Jesus Christ to heal his son, a deaf and dumb child who was possessed, by casting out the evil spirit who was the reason the child was deaf and dumb. ‘Deaf and dumb spirit,’ said the Lord to the impure one, ‘I command you, come out of him and enter him no more.’ Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose (Mark 9:25–27). But see how evil was the spirit who tormented the child. His father told the Lord how wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid (Mark 9:18). This happened also at the time when the father brought his son to the Saviour. And when the Lord asked the father, as if he did not already know, even though, as God, He knows all, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him,’ and he asked the Lord to have compassion on him and his son, and to help them, if He can do anything. Jesus told him: ‘If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.’ And the unfortunate father of little faith cried out with tears ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:21–24).

Sunday of Saint John Climacus: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Sunday of Saint John Climacus

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 4.
Psalm 75.11,1
Make your vows to the Lord our God and perform them.
Verse: God is known in Judah; his name is great in Israel.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 6:13-20

English

Brethren, when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore to himself, saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you." And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Men indeed swear by a greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Prayers Prayed by the Athonite Monks in Their Vigil Against the Coronavirus


On Friday 27 March into Saturday 28 March the monks of Mount Athos, in every monastery, skete and cell, held an all-night vigil against the pandemic of the coronavirus.

The vigil was dedicated to the Panagia, who is the protectress of the Holy Mountain, as well as the Holy Hieromartyr Haralambos, who is noted especially for his miracles in vanquishing plagues and epidemics, including an epidemic that once infected the monks of the Holy Mountain and which he was responsible for dispelling.

Saint Hilarion of Gdov and Pskov Lake (+ 1476)

St. Hilarion of Gdov (Feast Day - March 28 and October 21)

Venerable Hilarion of Gdov and Pskov Lake, was a disciple of Saint Euphrosynus of Pskov (May 15), founder of the Spaso-Eleazarovsky Monastery. In 1460 on the banks of the River Zhelcha, not far from Gdov, he founded the Ozersk Lake Monastery of the Protection of the Mother of God. The monastery bordered the territory of the Livonian Knights, and the monks constantly suffered the incursions of that military order.

Fourth Saturday of Great Lent: Epistle and Gospel Reading


 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 2.
Psalm 24.13; 27.1
Their souls shall dwell among good things.
Verse: To you, O Lord, have I cried, O my God.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 6:9-12

English

Brethren, we feel sure of better things that belong to salvation. For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Pastoral Letter Concerning the Coronavirus


Rejoice in the Lord and may you be in good health!

1. In these days we live in, days that are difficult for all people, I think more deeply about you, more than ever before. And in my humble prayer I especially remember you, the sacred flock, that has been entrusted to me by the Church of Christ with the command to shepherd.

I pray that our Jesus Christ will keep you safe from all harm, physical and spiritual, and will secure you in the faith and in His love. I ask that you pray the same for me.

Coronavirus - pandemic or opportunity?


By Archimandrite Bartholomew,
Abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery

Fear, panic, uncertainty and anxiety prevails over humanity, and the cause of this - a small virus. Something "microscopic" came to dominate the "big", to subdue it completely!

Suddenly terror overwhelms the young and the old, the mighty and the weak. We call it a threat, an invisible enemy, to justify our weakness.

We immediately forgot about our ego which constantly persuaded us that we are capable of everything, stronger than all. Then comes the microscopic virus before which we are all equal and weak.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 20 - Friday


Isaiah 29:13-23

And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men learned by rote; therefore, behold, I will again do marvelous things with this people, wonderful and marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hid." Woe to those who hide deep from the Lord their counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, "Who sees us? Who knows us?" You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; that the thing made should say of its maker, "He did not make me"; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Panagia in the Intensive Care Unit - A Modern Testimony


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The area of ​​the intensive care unit is a place where the fight against death is intensified. Doctors and nurses are personally fighting with death that has claimed the patient, but the patient is also in a difficult situation. In front of them they see death coming, and this increases their distress, at the same time they are alone, without the presence of their loved ones, whom they see for a few minutes. Then there are the big questions of life and death, of the meaning of life, but there are also regrets of past events.

In the intensive care room there is a strong interest in the health of the body and in the avoidance of death, but there is also no parallel interest in the patient's internal existential questions and spiritual concerns. The clergyman can hardly practice his pastoral ministry. Thus, the patient has to be spiritually reawakened alone, to accept the visits of divine Grace, in accordance with previous internal situations.

Hospital and Ideology


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Professor Haralambos Roussos, who is Head of Pulmonology and Intensive Care at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, lately dealt with the treatment of Savvas Xeros, a member of the Marxist terrorist organization 17N, and gave an interview about the hospitalization of his patient. In this interview, among other things, I made an important observation that I would like to convey and comment on.

The Professor, referring to the bed on which his patient Savvas Xeros was hospitalized on, said: "On the same bed was George Livanos, the archbishops Anastasios of Albania and Chrysostomos of Cyprus, and a victim of 17N Michael Vranopoulos. It was perhaps by chance, because this bed is convenient for quick service." The journalist who did the interview informs us that Professor Roussos was called to treat, besides the people mentioned above, Andreas Papandreou, Odysseas Elytis, the publisher Christos Lambrakis, Georgios Gennimatas, and all of these, except for Andreas Papandreou, were hospitalized in the same room and on the same bed. At another point in the interview, the Professor said: "Our minds are dominated by the fact that they are seriously ill and not if someone is righteous or a sinner, rich or poor."

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 19 - Thursday


Isaiah 28:14-22

Thus says the Lord, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem! Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement; when the overwhelming scourge passes through it will not come to us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter"; therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'He who believes will not be in haste.' And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plummet; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter." Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand; when the overwhelming scourge passes through you will be beaten down by it. As often as it passes through it will take you; for morning by morning it will pass through, by day and by night; and it will be sheer terror to understand the message. For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it. For the Lord will rise up as on Mount Perazim, he will be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon; to do his deed - strange is his deed! and to work his work - alien is his work! Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord God of hosts upon the whole land.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

On the Annunciation of our Exceedingly Pure Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (St. Gregory Palamas)


Homily 14

On the Annunciation of our Exceedingly Pure Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary

By St. Gregory Palamas

1. When the prophet and psalmist was enumerating the different aspects of creation and observing God’s wisdom in them all, he was filled with amazement and cried out while writing, ‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom have you made them all’ (Ps. 104:24). Now that I am attempting, if I can, to tell you about the manifestation in the flesh of the Word who made all things, what fitting word of praise will I find? If all things that exist inspire wonder, and their coming out of non-being into being is something divine and greatly to be hymned, how much more amazing, divine and demanding of our praises is it for a being to become god, and not just god, but the God who truly is? Especially as it was our nature which was neither able nor willing to preserve the image in which it was made, and had therefore been rightly banished to the lower parts of the earth. That our nature should become like God, and that through it we should receive the gift of returning to what is better, is a mystery so great and divine, so ineffable and beyond understanding, that it remained absolutely unrecognized by holy angels and men, and even by prophets, although they had spiritual vision, and was hidden throughout the ages. But why am I speaking about the time before it was accomplished? Even now it has happened, how it happened, although not the fact that it has, remains a mystery, believed not known, worshiped not investigated, and only believed and worshipped through the Spirit. “No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 12:3), and the Apostle tells us that it is through the Spirit that we worship and pray (Rom. 8:26).

A Special Celebration of March 25th for the Greek People


By Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras

Behold, the great day and feast of March 25th is at the door. The celebration due to the prevailing special circumstances will not be as brilliant as it used to be. There will be no "official" doxologies, no parades, no celebratory speeches.

This year's celebration has the particularity that it will take place internally, heartily, prayerfully in the home and in the Church through the Divine Liturgy (where it is performed), with the participation of the few, as provided by the instructions of the competent authorities. In our city, we will be liturgizing in the Holy Metropolitan Cathedral of Evangelistria, which even celebrates, with the Divine Liturgy transmitted by our Ecclesiastical TV Station and our Radio Station.

On the Annunciation (Sts. Ambrose of Milan, Jerome and Leo the Great)


By St. Ambrose of Milan

(Commentary on Luke, Bk. 2)

The mysteries of God are unsearchable, as is especially declared in the prophetic words: "What man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is?"

Nevertheless, some things have been revealed to us. And hence we may gather, from the words and works of our Lord and Savior, that there was a special purpose of God in the fact that she who was chosen to bring forth the Lord was espoused to a man.

Why did not the power of the Highest overshadow her before she was so espoused? Perhaps it was lest any might blasphemously say that the Holy One was conceived in fornication.

Annunciation of the Theotokos: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

March 25

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 1:39-49, 56

English

In those days, Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 18 - Wednesday


Isaiah 26:21-27:9

For behold, the Lord is coming forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed upon her, and will no more cover her slain. In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.

In that day: "A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest any one harm it, I guard it night and day; I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would set out against them, I would burn them up together. Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me."

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Holy Zoni of the Theotokos and the Cholera Epidemic of 1864 in Constantinople


In 1864 the Holy Zoni (Girdle) of the Mother of God was brought to Constantinople by monks from Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain, due to a cholera epidemic that ravaged its inhabitants. As soon as the ship arrived at the port, the cholera ceased and there were no longer any reports of death even by those infected.

When Saint Iakovos Tsalikes Chose Not to Attend Holy Week and Easter Services


By Archimandrite Gabriel,
Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia

When Iakovos [1920-1991] was a soldier in the army he was just as devout as he was before. He maintained his faith, his prayers, his love for others, and his obedience to his superiors. This is why he was liked by his superiors, by his commander, and by the Lieutenant Colonel Polykarpos Zoes. Of course, as was often the case, his fellow soldiers teased him and scorned him, but he treated them with love, joy and patience.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 17 - Tuesday


Isaiah 25:1-9

O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For thou hast made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify thee; cities of ruthless nations will fear thee. For thou hast been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the blast of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. Thou dost subdue the noise of the aliens; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled.

Monday, March 23, 2020

When Kapodistrias Closed the Churches and Defeated an Epidemic


By Aristeidis Hatzes,
Professor of the Philosophy of Law & Institutional Theory at the
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Ioannis Kapodistrias (1776-1831) was the first governor or head of state of independent Greece (1827–31) and is considered the founder of the modern Greek state, and the architect of Greek independence. He was very much beloved by the people of Greece, and one reason for this was because he based almost everything he did on Christian principals. He was a very faithful Christian and a defender of the Orthodox Church, clashing with anyone he considered to threaten it.

But Kapodistrias was also a responsible leader who was ready to make difficult decisions, even from the first moment he arrived in Greece. During the first months of his rule, a plague epidemic occurred in the Argosaronic islands, in Hydra first and then in Spetses. One of the first decisions he made in April 1828 was to close the churches in areas where incidents had occurred or were likely to occur (eg., in Aegina where he himself had settled). The churches were closed for an indefinite period and the reactions were minimal. The Greeks respected him, admired him and mainly trusted him. This was because Kapodistrias was also a very good doctor and indeed with considerable practical experience he acquired long before he became fully involved in politics. So he knew what he was doing very well - it wasn't a hasty decision of the moment. The opposite is true.

A Treatise Offered in a Time of Pestilence by St. Cyprian of Carthage


The Plague of Cyprian was a pandemic that afflicted the Roman Empire from about AD 249 to 262. The plague is thought to have caused widespread manpower shortages for food production and the Roman army, severely weakening the empire during the Crisis of the Third Century. Its modern name commemorates St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, an early Christian writer who witnessed and described the plague. The agent of the plague is highly speculative due to sparse sourcing, but suspects include smallpox, pandemic influenza and viral hemorrhagic fever (filoviruses) like the Ebola virus.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 16 - Monday


Isaiah 14:24-32

The Lord of hosts has sworn: "As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, that I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains trample him under foot; and his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden from their shoulder." This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle: "Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you, that the rod which smote you is broken, for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder, and its fruit will be a flying serpent. And the first-born of the poor will feed, and the needy lie down in safety; but I will kill your root with famine, and your remnant I will slay. Wail, O gate; cry, O city; melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you! For smoke comes out of the north, and there is no straggler in his ranks." What will one answer the messengers of the nation? "The Lord has founded Zion, and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge."

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Poison and the Cross: A Tale from the Life of Saint John the Theologian


By St. Prochoros, Disciple of the Apostle John

(Acts of John the Apostle)

There was at that time a certain Christian who had fallen into destitution, and he had nothing with which to pay back his creditors. In great distress he thought to kill himself and asked a certain sorcerer, a Jew, to give him some deadly poison. That enemy of Christians and friend of demons carried out the request and gave him a fatal potion.

Taking the potion, the Christian returned to his home, but long he considered and was afraid, not knowing what to do. Finally, making the sign of the Cross over the cup, he drank it and felt not the least harm therefrom, for the sign of the Cross had taken all the poison from the cup. He marveled much that he remained healthy and felt no ill effects.

Saint Benedict and the Sign of the Holy Cross


By St. Gregory Dialogos, Pope of Rome

(Dialogues, Bk.2)

Not far from the place where [Benedict] lived there was a monastery, where the Abbot had died. The whole monastery came to the venerable man Benedict, entreating him very earnestly that he would accept to take upon himself the charge and government of their monastery. For a long time he denied them, saying that their manners were different from his, and therefore that they would never agree with each other; yet in time, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent.

Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 2.
Psalm 27.9,1
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance.
Verse: To you, O Lord, I have cried, O my God.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6

English

Brethren, since we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Recommended Reading While in Quarantine


I was asked a few times to recommend something to read during these times when many are quarantined during the coronavirus. So I will recommend two books, one spiritually beneficial and the other secular and entertaining, which have to do with both aspects of what the world is going through, namely quarantine and the virus. I will recommend two books that are immediately available online.

Third Saturday of Great Lent: Epistle and Gospel Reading


 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 2.
Psalm 31.11,1
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous.
Verse: Blessed are they whose transgressions have been forgiven.

The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 10:32-38

English

Brethren, recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that you may do the will of God and receive what is promised. "For yet a little while, and the coming one shall come and shall not tarry; but my righteous one shall live by faith."

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Role of the Eucharist in the Lives of the Desert Fathers



When Saint Cuthbert Fell Victim to an Epidemic and Miraculously Recovered


St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne (+ c. 634), and Anglo-Saxon England's most revered saint, where he was a very active missionary, is celebrated by the Church on March 20th. In the Life of Saint Cuthbert written by Venerable Bede in the early 8th century, we read how the Saint fell victim to an epidemic that befell Britain, though miraculously recovered, unlike his teacher in the spiritual life Boisil. Venerable Bede writes (ch. 8):

Meanwhile, as every thing in this world is frail and fluctuating, like the sea when a storm comes on, the above-named Abbot Eata, with Cuthbert and the other brethren, were expelled from their residence, and the monastery given to others. But our worthy champion of Christ did not by reason of his change of place relax his zeal in carrying on the spiritual conflict which he had undertaken; but he attended, as he had ever done, to the precepts and example of the blessed Boisil.

Holy New Martyr Myron of Crete as a Model for our Lives


By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

The period of the Turkish occupation gave us many martyrs, who, in contrast to the martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity, were called New Martyrs. One of these New Martyrs was Myron, who was from Crete and was martyred in Crete. Specifically, he was born in Mega Kastro, and was the son of noble and pious parents, who taught him to love Christ and the Church. He loved the quiet life and prayer and lived in virginity and prudence. Having learned the art of sewing he went to work in his work shop while praying and avoiding talking with his Hagarene neighbors, who, because they could not stand his virtuous way of life, they envied him and slandered him saying that he sexually assaulted a young Turk, so they dragged him to court. Myron responded by denying this charge before the judge, but the judge gave him a choice to go free if he changed his faith and became a Muslim or else he would be put to death. Myron boldly confessed his faith, which is why he was condemned to be hanged. When the soldiers led him to the place of his execution, he asked forgiveness from all the Christians he encountered along the way. His father who was following him with tears, having been given permission to approach him, he comforted. Asking for his blessing he told him not to be sad, because the accusations against him were false and that he was dying for his faith. After he was hanged the place was illuminated by a very bright heavenly light and the body of the martyr was luminous and fragrant. Christians took him and buried him with reverence, respect and spiritual joy, glorifying God Who glorifies His saints.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 15 - Friday


Isaiah 13:2-13

On a bare hill raise a signal, cry aloud to them; wave the hand for them to enter the gates of the nobles. I myself have commanded my consecrated ones, have summoned my mighty men to execute my anger, my proudly exulting ones.

Hark, a tumult on the mountains as of a great multitude! Hark, an uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathering together! The Lord of hosts is mustering a host for battle. They come from a distant land, from the end of the heavens, the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole earth.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Saints Claudius, Hilaria, Jason and Maurus as Models for our Lives

Sts. Claudius, Hilaria, Jason and Maurus (Feast Day - March 19)

By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

Saint Claudius lived in the third century, during the reign of Emperor Numerian, and he was a Tribune, namely a Commander of the Roman army. He and his soldiers were the ones who gave over the Holy Martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria to be tortured. At the time he was an idolater, but a benevolent and good man, which is why when he witnessed the Holy Martyrs being subjected to horrible torture yet remaining without wounds and more importantly without fear, but instead remained calm and serene, as if others were being tortured, he believed in Christ and confessed Him as the true God. He was baptized with his wife Hilaria and his two children Maurus and Jason. The soldiers of his guard did the same thing, and afterwards gave their testimony for Christ and sealed it with the blood of their martyrdom.

Coronavirus and the Church: An Interview With Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos


Coronavirus and the Church

An Interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Question 1: What is the coronavirus (covid-19)?

Answer: It is a virus which, like most viruses, consists of RNA's, and uses the structure, the nucleus and the DNA of cells to function.

It is known that the genetic information from the DNA, which is in the nucleus of the cell, is transferred to the RNA, which is in the cytoplasm, and is then transcribed into proteins. This copying, transcription and translation is the central doctrine of biology.

However, the reverse flow of information from RNA to DNA disrupts that central doctrine of biology. To make sense of it, I will use the image of the hijacker, who does not have his own airplane, he does not know how to fly, but he uses the aircraft's instruments and the pilot for his own purpose.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 14 - Thursday


Isaiah 11:10-12:2

Thus says the Lord: In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down upon the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dryshod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant which is left of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Saint Cyril of Astrakhan (+ 1576)

St. Cyril of Astrakhan (Feast Day - March 18)

Venerable Cyril of Astrakhan was archimandrite of the Trinity Monastery in Astrakhan. He had been sent there by Tsar Ivan the Terrible as abbot to the newly-built monastery in the year 1568 after Astrakhan came under Moscow. He constructed at the monastery temples in honor of the Most Holy Trinity, the Entry of the Most Holy Mother of God into the Temple, and Saint Nicholas. He zealously concerned himself with the enlightening of the Astrakhan region, and by his meekness and piety he gained the respect of even the Muslims – who called him the Kara-Daud (the Black David) in distinction from the holy Prophet King David.

A Prayer in Light of the Coronavirus Epidemic


A Prayer in Light of the Coronavirus Epidemic

By Metropolitan Joel of Edessa

Lord Jesus Christ our God, the chief physician of our souls and bodies, Who became man for us to cure the great wound of humanity; Who did not reject the ten lepers who suffered from an incurable disease, but purified them by Your salvific grace; Who, being God-man, passed Your days on this earth serving and healing all who were sick and those who are ill; Who served and restored to health the paralytics, the blind, those who had committed grave sins, the demonized as well as those who suffered both in the flesh and in the mind, now amiably accept our supplication and by Your power expel this deadly virus that bears the shape of a crown, which has brought fear and even death to those who are sick and wrongfully suffering.

Old Testament Readings for Great Lent: Day 13 - Wednesday


Isaiah 10:12-20

When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride. For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as men gather eggs that have been forsaken so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped." Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down. In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Are Churches Allowed to Close?


By Archimandrite Vasilios Bakoyiannis

Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysios V (1887-1891) was in a heated confrontation with the Sultan, because the Sultan "diminished" the privileges of the Patriarchate, among many other things.

And the Sultan was intransigent! How did the Patriarch react? He ordered (1890) to close all the churches!

That is, by his order (!) it was not permitted to perform the Divine Liturgy or any divine service!

This was an act of mourning for the prevailing situation!*

Saint Alexios the Man of God Resource Page

St. Alexios the Man of God (Feast Day - March 17)

Verses

On earth you alone were called Man of God,
Which you alone carried anew into the heavens Father.
On the seventeenth Alexios was taken by death.

Synaxarion of Saint Alexios the Man of God

Saint Alexios the Man of God

Saint Alexios the Man of God as a Model for our Lives

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