April 30, 2020

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

Below is the monthly review for the month of April 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 April, that honor goes to:


1. Thousands of Cypriots Chant the Akathist Hymn From Their Balconies

2. A First Look at the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem 2020

3. Supplicatory Canon to the Most Philanthropic Son of the Living God the Conqueror of the Coronavirus

4. One of the Best Video Confirmations of the Miracle of the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem

5. 90-Year-Old Widow from Kalymnos Chants "Anastaseos Imera" ("It is the Day of Resurrection")

Commemoration of the Massacre in 1823 at the Cave of Milatos

On Thomas Sunday, which is the Sunday after Easter, a Memorial Service is held in the Cave of Milatos (also known as Rapas Cave), which is located in Lassithi, Crete, 3km northeast of Milatos village at an altitude of 155m, to commemorate the massacre of 3600 Cretans. This execution took place in February 1823 under the orders of the Turkish general Hassan. These 3600 people, mainly women and children, were hiding in this cave from the bloodthirsty Turks who were ravaging the area.

Statement of the Holy Monastery of Saint John the New in Suceava, Romania in Light of the Case of Coronavirus

The Holy Monastery of Saint John the New in Suceava, Romania contains the sacred relics of the Holy New Martyr John the New of Suceava, which are highly honored for being the source of many miracles. Even the primary local hospital of the area is named after the Saint, the Saint John the New Hospital.

The 90-year-old Archbishop Pimen of Suceava and Radauti recently was tested positive with the coronavirus. His Archdiocese and where he lives is located in the Monastery of Saint John the New in Suceava. He began feeling symptoms at the beginning of Holy Week. This past Easter and on Bright Monday, Archbishop Pimen served the Divine Liturgy as well as other Services throughout the week and communed from the same cup as all the other clergy and monks. However, on Bright Monday, April 20, he became seriously ill and was admitted to Saint John the New Hospital. Because he had a severe case, he was flown that night to Bucharest and admitted to the Matei BalÈ™ Institute for Infectious Diseases, after being tested positive with the new coronavirus. Saint John the New Monastery immediately went under lockdown, and an epidemiological investigation was initiated.

Saint Cedd and the Yellow Plague

Saint Cedd was a missionary and Bishop of Essex who spread the Christian faith throughout England during the seventh century. He is commemorated on January 7.

In 658, Bishop Cedd was approached by King Aethelwald of Deira. Finding Cedd to be a good and wise man, he pressed upon him to accept a parcel of land at Lastingham in Yorkshire on which to build a monastery. Cedd eventually agreed, but would not lay the foundation stones until the place had first been cleansed through prayer and fasting. Cedd was the first Abbot of Lastingham and remained so while still administering to his flock in Essex.

Saint Erconwald, Bishop of London (+ 693)

St. Erconwald of London (Feast Day - April 30)

Believed to be an early convert of the mission led by Saint Mellitus, Erconwald founded two monasteries on either side of the Thames, on the pattern that was later adopted by Saint Benedict Biscop, when he built the twin monasteries of Saint Peter in Monk Wearmouth and Saint Paul in Jarrow. The monastery Erconwald built at Chertsey in Surrey he presided over as Abbot, but the other, at Barking in Essex, he gave to his sister Saint Ethelburga, recalling Saint Hildelid from France to train her in the monastic way of life and to guide her in the governance of this double monastery of monks and nuns. His sister remained very close to him and later, when he was Bishop of London, used to accompany him on his journeys. Later, he was incapacitated by gout and had to be helped into a wheeled litter, the forerunner of the Bath-chair, and the remains of this was preserved in Old Saint Paul's Cathedral and, according to Saint Bede, was the source of miracles by the faithful who touched it or cut chips from it.

Holy Apostle James the Son of Zebedee: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Apostle James the Son of Zebedee

April 30th

 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.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11


About that time, Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church. The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me." And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."

Second Thursday after Pascha: Epistle and Gospel Reading

 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.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 4:23-31


In those days, when the apostles were released they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who by the mouth of our father David, thy servant, didst say by the Holy Spirit, 'Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples imagine vain things? The kings of the earth set themselves in array, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'- for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretchest out thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

April 29, 2020

Saint John Kaloktenes the New Merciful, Metropolitan of Thebes

On the 29th of April we commemorate our Holy Father John the Metropolitan of Thebes and leader of all Boeotia who is called Kaloktenes and the New Merciful.


Like the Archangel you spoke with the Virgin,
And heard her say Rejoice to you, John.
The New Merciful had mercy on the poor,
Receiving his wages though having no wealth.
On the twenty-ninth the New Merciful John,
Received a peaceful lot.

Saint John Kaloktenes lived in the twelfth century, and was born to noble and virtuous parents in Constantinople, his father's name being Constantine and mother's name being Maria. His birth was the fruit of prayer, as John's parents were sterile for many years. This resulted in John being a lover of prayer from early childhood. Growing up he was an excellent student. Because of his great love for the Mother of God, he was made worthy one day to hear her voice as he read the Salutation, "Rejoice, bride unwedded," to which he heard her voice say to him, "Rejoice you as well, protector of Thebes."

Holy Martyrs of Lazeti (+ 17th and 18th cent.)

Holy Martyrs of Lazeti (Feast Day - April 29)

Lazeti is a region in southern Kolkheti (Colchis), the ancient kingdom located in what is now southwestern Georgia and northeastern Turkey. In ancient times, Lazeti was a center of Georgian culture. The holy Apostle Andrew began the conversion of the Georgian nation from this very region.

After the fall of Byzantium in 1453, the Ottomans sought for three centuries to destroy the Christian-Georgian consciousness of the Laz people. At the same time, Rome increased its presence in the region by dispatching ever greater numbers of Catholic missionaries.

Second Wednesday after Pascha: Epistle and Gospel Reading

 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.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 4:13-22


In those days, when the Jews saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this name." So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people; for all men praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom the sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

One of the Best Video Confirmations of the Miracle of the Holy Light (Holy Fire) of Jerusalem

Today there are many skeptics of the miraculous nature of the Holy Light of Jerusalem, known as Holy Fire in the West. Because it takes place behind closed doors with only the Patriarch of Jerusalem witnessing the initial appearance of the Holy Light from within the Holy Sepulchre, there is a lot of speculation as to what really takes place behind those closed doors to produce the fire. Some people refuse to accept that it could really happen by a miracle.

Assuming the skeptics are right and there is indeed deception by the Patriarchs Of Jerusalem over the course of many centuries, this still would not explain a naturalistic origin for the Holy Light. In fact, it only explains one aspect of it. There are many more things the skeptic would need to explain to dispel the supernatural element of this event. For example, one aspect of the miracle no skeptic has ever given an adequate explanation for is the fact that on numerous occasions there are reports of candles being held by people within the church and even outside the church being lit up on their own before the Holy Light is distributed to the people. There is video evidence of this, but due to the large and packed crowds the person shooting the video is never able to catch up to the people for whom this miracle took place.

April 28, 2020

Holy Communion: Wrong Questions at the Wrong Time

By Archimandrite Bartholomew,
Abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery

"Can someone catch the coronavirus from Holy Communion or not?"

This is a question that has been in the spotlight during this time.

Many of our fellow citizens are worried. Believers, however, propose their firm belief that it is impossible for someone to catch a disease by Holy Communion, as Holy Communion is a "medicine of immortality" and you only "catch Christ."

But is this question reasonable and useful at this stage we are in?

Saint Cyril, Bishop of Turov (+ 1183)

St. Cyril of Turov (Feast Day - April 28)

Saint Cyril was born of wealthy and noble parents in the thirties of the twelfth century in the city of Turov at the River Pripyat.

From his early years Cyril eagerly read the sacred books and attained a profound understanding of them. He studied not only in Russian, but also in Greek. When he reached maturity Cyril refused his inheritance and was tonsured in Turov’s Saint Boris and Gleb Monastery. He struggled much in fasting and prayer and taught the monks to obey the abbot. A monk who is not obedient to the abbot does not fulfill his vow, and therefore is not able to be saved.

Saint Auxibios II, Bishop of Soli in Cyprus


You were given a place in the chorus of the saved,
Having increased in divine ecstasy in life Auxibios.

Our Venerable Father Auxibios was the Bishop of Soli in Cyprus and lived in the fourth century. Auxibios was one of the Bishops of Cyprus to attend the Synod of Sardica (located in modern day Sofia, Bulgaria) which convened in 343. He reposed in peace.

Second Tuesday after Pascha: Epistle and Gospel Reading

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Grave Mode.
Psalm 63.11,1
The righteous shall rejoice in the Lord.
Verse: Oh God, hear my cry.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 4:1-10


In those days, while the apostles were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the morrow, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to about five thousand. On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well."

The Bright Resurrection of Christ (5 of 5)

...continued from part four.

As Pascha stands out from the ranking of other feasts, its order of services differs from the services of other feasts. Some daily services usually performed by the Holy Church during Bright Week are changed. At Paschal Matins there are no six psalms, (1) we do not sing the Polyeleos, nor the Magnification, we do not read the Gospel, we do not sing the Great Doxology; we do not project the usual paradigms for Compline, the Midnight Service, the Hours, and instead of the Psalms which are included in structure of these services we sing special stichera glorifying the resurrection of Christ and His victory over Hades and death. During all of Bright Week we do not read from the Psalter. (2) Expressing an exuberance of joy, the Holy Church does all services with almost uninterrupted singing. Now St. John of Damascus for the most part composed the poetic hymns, based on the writings of the ancient fathers of the Church, mainly Saints Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa and others. The Divine Services during all of Bright Week are done before open Royal Doors, signifying that by the resurrection of Jesus Christ "the heavens opened" (John 1:51) and He opens "the doors of Paradise for us". "Let it be known", the Rubrics (Ustav) says, "that the Royal Doors of the Sanctuary, the great ones and also the little side doors, according to the church are not closed even during communion". (3) During all of Bright Week, according to the standard custom, the church bells ring every day as a sign of celebrating the victory of the risen Lord over death and Hades. (4)


1) On the day of Pascha and during all the remaining paschal season until the Sunday of Antipascha, in the opinion of some, it is not necessary to read the "Lighting of the Lamps" prayers at Vespers, and also the prayers placed at Matins in our service books, because (1) the reading of the Lighting of the Lamps prayers and the morning prayers in our Church are connected, the former with Psalm 103 and the latter with the Six Psalms, and neither the former nor the latter is necessary on Pascha or during all of Bright Week. (2) The rubrics has neither a single word nor a hint at their reading anywhere on Pascha and during all the week, although it definitely speaks about reading the Lighting of the Lamps prayers and the morning prayers at the performance of the usual All Night Vigil and Matins. (3) The contents and essence of these prayers are permeated with a special repentant feeling, conscious of our heavy responsibility before God for sins and asking for forgiveness from Him. That is why they do not come under the spirit and character of the feast of Pascha and all of Bright Week, when, in the words of Chrysostom, it must be that "no one called out petitions from the tomb that cried over sins asking forgiveness". And finally, (4) the priests definitely cannot find enough time, even if in some way they would have wished to read these prayers.

The only time in this case might be to appoint the singing of "Christ is Risen" in place of the Primordial Psalm as it actually does replace and with it the reading of Psalm 103 (LXX) and the Six Psalms, during which time the reading of the Lighting of the Lamps Prayers and the Matins Prayers is necessary. But concerning this a) it definitely suppresses the Rubrics and b) during this time the priest is censing according to the order, and intoning the verses "Let God arise". To arbitrarily read these prayers where they fall at the beginning of Vespers or Matins or during the canon is opposed to the Rubrics and causes disorder in the structure of the Paschal services.

According to another opinion, in view of this, is that the Matins Prayers are not connected to Psalm 103 and the Six Psalms, but to the Great Litany. And also in view of this the name "Lighting of the Lamps" is kept in the Rubrics even for the Paschal Vespers (see the Order for this Vespers) meaning that the Vespers and Matins prayers should be read even on Pascha during the Great Litany.

2) The bending of the knees is the intensified spiritual effort of prayer and repentance. Therefore the Holy Church specially established the frequent prostrations to the ground during Lent. With the approach of Pascha it gradually ordered them to be dropped. The Holy Church designates Great Friday as the last day for doing the prostrations to the ground. On Great Saturday they are completely "abolished"; they especially should not be done on Pascha "as the feast of feasts and the holy day of holy days". Even the 20th canon of the First Ecumenical Council decreed that not only on the day of Pascha, but also from Pascha up to Pentecost not to bend the knees during the Divine Services but to pray standing, representing the Rising from the dead.

3) The Royal Doors are opened before the Cross Procession at the beginning of the Paschal Matins, and remains open throughout the Paschal season.

4) According to the "Tserk. Ved." (Church Messenger, 1893, 18), in Tobolsk until today they keep the ancient custom of decorating the temples during the days of Pascha. So, in 1893, exceptionally beautiful decorations again distinguished the constructed home church of the theological seminary from all the Tobolsk churches. The stairs leading into the church was filled with living fir-trees from the village that were lit with multi-colored lampadas placed in beautiful lanterns. At the top of the stairs the attention of pilgrims was fixed at first on two graceful lanterns, with beautifully cut out transparent initials "X. B." (Initials for Christ is Risen), and then to a rather tastefully constructed candelabra made from the branches of a fir tree, on which candles were replaced by spherical colored lanterns with many lights. Further, down in the long corridor were thick fir tree decorations and those many-lighted lanterns, with the monogram brightly burned on a green background with the initials "X. B." The ceiling of the corridor, to its full extent, was covered with the large tasteful fringes from pine needles. The decoration of the corridor was finished with an artfully made arch with multi-colored columns, the monogram and the transparent image of the Resurrection of Christ. The students exclusively of the local seminary did all this work.

April 27, 2020

The Bright Resurrection of Christ (4 of 5)

The divinely bright victory of our Lord Jesus Christ over all enemies of our salvation and our gift of eternal life is hymned in the services for the feast of Pascha. All the divine services and church actions for this feast are especially solemn and are penetrated by the single feeling of joy for the Resurrected One, so that the Church of Christ at this time is sooner represented by the celebration from the heavens rather than by the still militant church on earth.(1) The majestic and multi-significant Paschal Divine Services reveal to the believer everything that in Christianity is mysterious, high and redemptive for the soul, light, pleasing and comforting for the heart. And if when the Christian heart is tuned up so much higher, it becomes alien to various sorts of earthly and vile interests, and furthermore it becomes alien to all sinful crimes. If when it becomes more fully tuned to sacred spiritual content, as it does in the moment of the majestic Paschal Divine Services, when the Christian ecstasy completely grasps the soul of a man and dominates in it over all its other thoughts, feelings and aspirations.(2) The power of the grace of God in the paschal Divine Services fills the Christian soul with an inexplicable tenderness, quiet happiness, and high blessedness of ardent love for God the Savior and for the people, the brethren in Christ.


He who "fights" us with conceptions and thoughts, constantly putting "obstacles" before us, aims to throw us into despair. Despair deprives us of our disposition, disappointing us and keeping people in perpetual inactivity, where all is black and nowhere is there light and hope.

The mind and thought remain focused only on the obstacle that is presented and does not believe that there is anything beyond.

Second Monday after Pascha: Epistle and Gospel Reading

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Psalm 103.4,1
Who makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire.
Verse: Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God you are very great.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 3:19-26


In those days, Peter said to the people, "Repent and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. Moses said, 'The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.' And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God gave to your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your posterity shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your wickedness."

Saint Stephen, Abbot of the Kiev Far Caves, and Bishop of Vladimir-Volynsky (+ 1094)

St. Stephen of the Kiev Caves and Vladimir-Volynsky (Feast Day - April 27)

Before being tonsured a monk, Saint Stephen was raised in a family of wealthy parents; after their death, he distributed all the property and decided to devote himself to the service of God. He pursued asceticism at the Kiev Caves Lavra under the guidance of Saint Theodosius (May 3). Saint Theodosius sometimes entrusted him to exhort the brethren with edifying words.

April 26, 2020

Like Thomas Let Us Ask To See Christ (Monk Moses the Athonite)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

Last Sunday we celebrated the glorious Resurrection of the Lord. The echo of the great celebration remains.

It's bright light bathes us. The resurrected Christ visits the unbelieving Thomas and us. He lowers Himself to our weakness. He allows Himself to visit us in order to dispel our disbelief, doubt and fear.

At midnight on Pascha was born joyful hope, the fearlessness of death, the death of death, the death of despair. The terrible and tedious darkness recedes. A powerful light comes, that illumines all things. Nothing can be hidden. Everything is now clear. The people are no longer indecent. With the Resurrection of Christ there was inspired another wind, transformative, that came to regenerate people, to the beginning of a new life, another way of life. Our nature has shifted.

Commentary on the Gospel Reading for Thomas Sunday (Archb. Averky of Syracuse)

By Archbishop Averky of Syracuse

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be unto you." Then saith He to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing." And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my God." Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name. (Jn. 20:24-31)

Thomas Sunday (Antipascha): Epistle and Gospel Reading

Thomas Sunday (Antipascha)

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Psalm 146.5;134.3
Great is our Lord, and great is his power.
Verse: Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 5:12-20


In those days, many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high honor. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. But the high priest rose up and all who were with him, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and said, "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life."

April 25, 2020

The Kollyvades Fathers: The Renaissance of Greek Orthodoxy

By Protopresbyter Fr. George D. Metallinos

I dedicate this summary to the Venerable Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Kollyva (+ 07/14/1809).

The appearance of the Kollyvades in the 18th century on the Holy Mountain, and more broadly throughout Greece, marks a dynamic return to the roots of Orthodox tradition and to Orthodox spirituality.

Their "movement", as it is called, was a renaissance, both traditional and progressive; it was patristic and thus genuinely Orthodox.

Father Petru Focsaneanu, Tortured to Death for Celebrating the Resurrection Service in his Prison Cell (+ 1953)

Hieromartyr Petru Focsaneanu was born on April 18, 1914 in the Podu Turcului commune of Bacau County, Romania. He attended primary school in the village, then the Theological Seminary in Galati, and continued his studies for two years at the School of Theology in Bucharest. He interrupted his studies however due to his precarious financial situation. He was ordained a priest in 1935 and served in the newly-constructed Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in the village of Tipletesti of the Alexandreni commune in Balti County. The construction of the church was carried out with great difficulty due to the lack of financial means, until 1938. Due to the insistence of the parish priest and the parish council, at the meeting of the Diocesan Council on April 1, 1938, the request to grant aid for the completion of the construction of the church was approved from the diocesan budget. The church was completed in the autumn of the same year.

The Visit of Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk to Prisoners on Pascha

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk visiting prisoners on Pascha.
Illustration from The Russian Pilgrim, 1903.

"At the time when the magistrate's court was located in a part of the Zadonsk Monastery, a prison for criminals was also established there. The Bishop loved to go there at night to visit sick prisoners and give them gifts. On Pascha, as he went through the prison, he exchanged the Paschal Kiss with all the prisoners."

- Ivan Efimov, servant and biographer of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Apostle Mark the Evangelist

April 25th

 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.

The reading is from the First Epistle of Peter 5:6-14


Brethren, humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, first in your faith, knowing that the same experience of suffering is required of your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish and strengthen you. To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen. By Silvanos, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God; stand fast in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you that are in Christ.

Bright Saturday: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Bright Saturday

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 1.
Psalm 26.1,2
The Lord is my light and my savior.
Verse: The Lord is the defender of my life.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 3:11-16


In those days, while the healed lame man clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through him has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all."

The Paschal Stichera with Fr. Philotheos at Dochiariou Monastery

In this video, Fr. Philotheos of Dochieariou Monastery on the Holy Mountain chants the Paschal Stichera of Matins.

April 24, 2020

When the Soviets (Successfully) Blamed Orthodox Christian Icons for an Epidemic of Syphilis

By Daniel Peris

Icons played a uniquely important and personal role in the lives of the Russian Orthodox; they were present in the home of each believer and occupied a special corner of the peasant hut. Not surprisingly, they were the target of extensive antireligious propaganda. The specific charges made against icons varied over time. In 1924 Bezbozhnik claimed that an epidemic of syphilis in the countryside was being spread through the practice of kissing icons. Five years later, during collectivization, grain caches were claimed to have been found under icons. The resolution of the icon problem was straightforward: icons should be removed and destroyed. Early in the 1920s, the antireligious media reported that the population was turning away from icons. Bezbozhnik u stanka printed a pledge signed by thirty-eight workers at the Krasnaia Zvezda factory in Moscow, vowing that none had an icon and none practiced "icon worship." The consequences of disposing of icons were potentially miraculous. Bezbozhnik reported that after the Novyi Put' (New Path) commune in Nizhnyi Novgorod Province threw out its icons in 1925, the commune began to prosper: "Without God our affairs are much better. We obtained two tractors, a sophisticated thresher, and all the necessary equipment for working the land...." Later in the decade, more pointed activism was deemed necessary. In both Iaroslavl' and Pskov, the local League councils held campaigns to collect icons from apartments and workers' dormitories. The regime's success in removing icons from urban public places seems not to have been repeated in private apartments or in the countryside generally. The League's own propaganda provides indirect evidence of the continuing widespread presence of icons well into the 1930s.

The Miraculous Discovery of the Zoodochos Pege Icon in Larissa in 1877

Until the end of the Turkish occupation, the residents of the Tampakika district of Larissa would attend church at the Metropolitan Church of Saint Achilleos. In 1877, a chapel was built dedicated to the Panagia Phaneromeni in the central part of the district, where there was an old cemetery. That same year, a nun named Theophania, who worked without being payed in this small chapel, settled nearby in a small cell, living an ascetic life. The Lord, seeing the purity of her soul, revealed to her in a dream where a well with a pulley was located, inside which on the bottom was an old icon of the Panagia. Another night she saw the Panagia in a dream leading her to the well with a pulley and showing her that deep inside the well was her icon.

The Story of How Saint George Led a Turkish Woman to be Baptized an Orthodox Christian

Recently a 26 year old Turkish woman named Gamze and her 34 year old Greek friend Stylianos visited Elder Nektarios Moulatsiotis, the founder and abbot of the Monastery of Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Seraphim of Sarov in Phokida, Greece. Gamze and her family were from Ankara, Turkey but moved to Berlin, Germany ten years ago. She grew up with no religion, though her family does have an Alevite background. Stylianos is from Kavala, Greece and due to financial hardships moved to Berlin, Germany about seven years ago. There he works as a public servant, and daily would visit the bakery across the street where Gamze worked. Over some time, a friendship formed between the two.

90-Year-Old Woman from Kalymnos Chants "Anastaseos Imera" ("It is the Day of Resurrection")

Katerina Makarouna, the "Nightingale of Palionisos" as she is known, is a 90-year-old widow from Kalymnos, who has 6 children, 23 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, and lives in Palionisos, the most remote village of the island with only six inhabitants for the past 67 years (they only received electricity 6 or 7 years ago and a paved road in 2006). Below she chants with a sweet and melodic voice the Paschal Doxastikon hymn "It is the Day of Resurrection" from within the Chapel of Saint Peter, which she visits once or twice a week.

Bright Friday - Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Bright Friday
Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 4.
Psalm 103.24,1
O Lord, how manifold are your works. You have made all things in wisdom.
Verse: Bless the Lord, O my soul.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 3:1-8


In those days, Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Church Bells Ring to the Melody of "Christ is Risen"

Church bells at the Metropolitan Church of Saint Nicholas in Alexandroupolis, Greece ring to the melody of "Christ is Risen".

April 23, 2020

Homily on the Holy Great Martyr George (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

Homily on the Holy Great Martyr George

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos


Saint George is par excellence a resurrected man of God and he sacrificed his entire well-educated life. And his martyrdom was a manifestation of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, just as his whole life was a manifestation of the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord. This is why the Church has established, even when his memory coincides with Holy and Great Lent, to be moved to and always celebrated in the Paschal period. As some hymns say, we meet the memory of the Great Martyr with the Resurrection of the Lord. And along with the physical air, the spring of nature, the spiritual air has come, which is the Resurrection of Christ and the memory of the Great Martyr and Trophy Bearer Saint George.

Saint George the Great Martyr: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Saint George the Great Martyr

April 23rd

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 21:12-19


The Lord said to his disciples, "Beware of men who will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put to death; you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives."

Bright Thursday: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Bright Thursday

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 3.
Psalm 46.6,1
Sing praises to our God, sing praises.
Verse: Clap your hands, all you nations.

The reading is from Acts of the Apostles 2:38-43


In those days, Peter said to the people, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

April 22, 2020

The Bright Resurrection of Christ (3 of 5)

...continued from part two.

The feast of Pascha was established and was already celebrated in the apostolic Church. It began from the very time of the resurrection of Christ by the celebration of the apostles, who even entrusted all believers to celebrate it (see 1 Cor. 5:8). But during the first centuries of Christianity they did not everywhere and at the same time celebrate Pascha. In the east, in Asia Minor the churches celebrated it on the 14th day of the vernal month, on whatever day of the week this date fell. And Western Christians, considering it indecent to celebrate Pascha together with the Jews, fulfilled it on the first Sunday after the vernal full moon. The two various customs existed up to the First Ecumenical Synod (325), at which the decision was made to celebrate Pascha everywhere on the first Sunday of the Paschal full moon, in order that Christian Pascha would always be celebrated after the Jews. At the very beginning the celebration of Holy Pascha during the first centuries of Christianity was not done in all the Churches at the same time. One of the Christians, the Roman, stopped the fast and began celebrating at the very midnight of the coming of Pascha; some Eastern Christians began the feast in the middle hours of the night before Pascha, not before, however, the first hour after midnight, and others from the fourth watch, i. e. at 4o'clock according to our time, at dawn. The disagreement on this question continued up to the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, at which it decided to stop the fast and to begin celebrating Pascha in the middle hours of the night after Great Saturday (Canon 89). Since this time it became the usual practice accepted everywhere to begin the celebration of the feast of Pascha immediately after midnight. 

The Miraculous Recovery of Saint Theodore of Sykeon from the Bubonic Plague

St. Theodore of Sykeon (Feast Day - April 22)

When he was about twelve years old an epidemic of bubonic plague fell upon the village and it attacked him along with the others so that he came near to dying. They took him to the shrine of Saint John the Baptist near the village and laid him at the entrance to the sanctuary, and above him where the cross was set there hung an icon of our Savior Jesus Christ. As he was suffering great pain from the plague suddenly drops of dew fell upon him from the icon, and immediately by the grace of God, freed from his suffering, he recovered and returned to his home.

Three Cave Churches of Mount Oeta

Mount Oeta is a mountain in Central Greece. A southeastern offshoot of the Pindus range, it is 2,152 m (7,060 ft) high. Along this mountain are cave churches dedicated to the Mother of God and the Holy Martyr Jerusalem (also known as Arsali).

Bright Wednesday: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Bright Wednesday

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode Plagal 2.
Psalm 44.17,10
They shall make mention of your name from generation to generation.
Verse: Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear.

The reading is from the Acts of the Apostles 2:22-38


In those days, Peter said to the people, "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope. For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor let thy Holy One see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence.' "Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens; but he himself says, 'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet.' Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ."

April 21, 2020

The Bright Resurrection of Christ (2 of 5)

...continued from part one.

The family, communal and civil, celebrated the great feast of Pascha in antiquity as a way life as it should be celebrated. This is seen from the remarkable,forceful, inspiring words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, said by him on this feast:"Today", said St. Gregory, "the entire universe, as one family, gathers for one purpose, having left their usual work, as if given a sign, turns to prayer. Today there are no travelers on the roads; no seafarers on the sea; the farmer, having left plough and spade, is dressed in festive clothes; the liquor stores stand empty, noisy markets disappear, as winter disappears with the coming of spring; the anxieties,the bustle, and the struggles of everyday life are replaced by the quiet of the feast.The poor are dressed like the rich; the rich are dressed even more superbly than usual; the old man, similarly to the young man, hastens to take part in the joy, and the ill person overcomes his illness; children, having changed clothes, celebrate sensually, because they cannot celebrate spiritually yet; the virgin rejoices with her whole heart because she sees the light of the solemn promise of her hope; the mother of the family, celebrating, rejoices with all her household, both she herself,and her husband, both children and servants and domestics, all rejoice. Like a newly formed swarm of bees, for the first time taking off from an apiary to light and air, all sit together on one branch of a tree, so on the present feast all members of families come from everywhere to gather in their homes. And it is really fair to compare the present day to the day of the future resurrection, because this and the other gather people; only then will all be going together, and now all are going separately. Whatever concerns the validity of joy and gladness one may say that the present day is more joyful than the future one: then by necessity those who are clothed in sin will cry; now, on the contrary, there is nothing sad among us. Now even the righteous man rejoices, and the unclean in his conscience hopes to be corrected by repentance. The present day eases all grief, and no man is so sad that he could not find consolation in the celebration of the feast. Today the captive is released; the debtor is forgiven his obligation; servants receive freedom under the good and philanthropic appeal of Church, not with dishonor and punishment.Wounds are not relieved by wounds, as happens during national feasts, where servants are exposed on a raised place in shame and humiliation receive their freedom, but are released in honor, as you yourself know, today even those remaining in slavery receive joy. Even if the servant committed many important offences, which may not be possible either to forgive or to excuse; even then his master out of respect for the day, basking in joy and humaneness, accepts there probate and the humiliated one, like the Pharaoh who released the cupbearer from prison. For he knows that on the day of the future resurrection, according to the paradigm that we celebrate today, he himself will need the long-suffering and goodness of the Lord and consequently, renders mercy today, expecting a reward on that day. Gentlemen, you learned not to belittle me before the servants as if I falsely praise this day; to remove grief from souls depressed by troubles as the Lord removed mortality from our body, to return honor to the disgraced, to fill the grieved with joy, to encourage the fallen in spirit, to lead those confined to the dark corners of your homes as if in a tomb to the light; to permit everyone to blossom in the beauty of the feast as a flower blossoms. If the birthday of an earthly king opens prisons, then certainly the victorious day of the resurrection of Christ will comfort those in mourning! O poor, on this day accept in love the One who nourishes you! O you weak and maimed, on this day greet the physician of your illness! The hope of your resurrection is hidden in Him, who induces you to be zealous about good deeds and to hate evil deeds; for with the destruction of ideas about the resurrection by everyone there will be left one prevailing idea: "Let use at and drink, for tomorrow we die (1 Cor. 15:32)".

Panagia Portaitissa and the Healing of a Man Dying of the Spanish Flu

At Athens there was a family, surnamed Melissourgos. In the month of May, in the year 1920, a member of this family, one named Elias, who was even a public prosecutor by profession, fell gravely ill with influenza and pneumonia. His condition was in a crisis. Physicians were making the rounds, attempting to heal that for which there was no cure at that time. Hence, while Elias contended, he also awaited death. His mother, nevertheless, perceived there was no benefit to be had from the attending physicians. She also saw the fixed and fast coming appointment with death for her son. She chose not to despair, but, as all Christians do, she took refuge in divine aid. She prostrated herself, with all her heart, before the Most Holy Theotokos, imploring her to heal her son. She adorned her home prayer corner with a copy of the Iveron Portaitissa icon, which she placed on high. The icon had been the gift of a visiting priest from the Holy Mountain.

Miracles of the 179 Venerable Martyrs of Ntaou Penteli Monastery

Brief History

The Monastery of the Pantokratoros Ntaou Penteli was founded in the 9th century as a men's cenobium. During the first period of its life and activity, the Byzantine period, it was the second largest monastery of the Balkans after Daphne Monastery, with a brotherhood that exceeded over 600 monks.

From 1570 onward, the fathers of the monastery became great spiritual figures of their time. The last of them, 179 in number, were slaughtered by the Turks after a Paschal Divine Liturgy in 1680. The commemoration of the 179 Venerable Martyrs slaughtered by the godless Hagarenes in 1680 is made on the Tuesday of Renewal Week. For centuries the graves of the 179 Venerable Martyrs remained unknown until September of 1965, during renovations of the floor of the main church, when entire remains of monks were found buried.

Bright Tuesday: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Bright Tuesday

 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.

The reading is from the Acts of the Apostles 2:14-21


In those days, Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'"

April 20, 2020

The Bright Resurrection of Christ (1 of 5)

By Sergei V. Bulgakov

Neither "A very large stone", which was rolled against the door of the tomb of Christ by the diligence of the noble Joseph of Arimathea, nor the seal which was fixed on the stone by the evil enemies of Christ, nor the military guards, placed by them at the tomb of the Life-giver, - nothing could keep the pure body of the Lord in the tomb. The very moment of the glorious resurrection of the Lord is not announced in the Holy Gospel.(1) The Holy Myrrh-bearing Women heard the first news about the resurrection from the angel sitting at the grave of the Lord. The appearance of the angel, who rolled the stone away from the door of the tomb, was accompanied by an earthquake, which terribly frightened the warriors, who were guarding the tomb, and who ran away from the tomb and were involuntary witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ before His enemies. As the news about the glorious resurrection of Christ was announced first to the Holy Myrrh-bearing Women by the angel, and the appearance of the risen Lord followed first of all to one of the myrrh-bearers, Mary Magdalene, and then also to the other myrrh-bearers. "The woman", teaches St. Gregory the Theologian, "from the mouth of a serpent received the first lie, and the woman from the mouth of the very risen Lord heard the first joyful news; that whose hand mixed the mortal drink was also the very hand that submitted the cup of life". After His appearance to the myrrhbearers, on this same day the resurrected Lord appeared to the Apostle Peter and then to the two apostles going to Emmaus, and on this same day in the evening appeared to the eleven apostles assembled in the rooming house, whose doors "for fear of the Jews" were closed.(2) The feast of the Resurrection of Christ is called Pascha (from the Jewish word pesach, that means "passes over"), according to the name of the Old Testament feast established in the memory of the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. In conformity with the commemoration of this feast with the event of the resurrection of Christ, the name Pascha in the Christian Church received its special meaning and began to designate the passage from death to life, from earth to Heaven.

Despite Quarantine Measures, Greeks Find Unique Ways to Celebrate Easter

The weekend of Easter 2020 will go down in history as being among the most unique. In particular Greece, where the great majority of the population are Orthodox Christians, though the people were confined behind closed doors during the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter due to the coronavirus crisis, unique ways were found to participate in the celebrations throughout the land. Everyone celebrated nonetheless, mostly with people going outside their homes and on their balconies to sing "Christ is Risen" as soon as the bells struck at midnight and fireworks in many places were fired off. The videos are too numerous to post, so you can take a look at a sample here.

The Lord's Forty Days of Fasting and Forty Days of Feasting

By Venerable Bede of Jarrow

Our Lord fasted forty days before His bodily death (Matt. 4:2) and feasted forty more with His disciples after His bodily resurrection, appearing to them by many infallible proofs and speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3-4). For by fasting He showed in Himself our toil, but by eating and drinking with His disciples He showed His consolation in our midst. While He was fasting he was crying out, as it were, "Take heed lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life" (Lk. 21:34), whereas while he was eating and drinking He was crying out, as it were, "Behold I am with you always even unto the consummation of the age" (Matt. 28:20), and: "But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one shall take from you" (Jn. 16:22). For as soon as we set our feet upon the way of the Lord we both fast from the vanity of the present world and are cheered with the promise of the world to come, not setting our heart on the life here below, but feeding our heart on the life above.

From On the Temple I.10.