August 31, 2020

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

Below is the monthly review for the month of August 2020 of the ten most popular articles on, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.

1. A Clear Photo of the Cross on the Forehead of the Snakes of the Panagia in Kefallonia

2. Distress for Beirut and the Romans

3. An Incident That Greatly Troubled Saint Paisios the Athonite

4. A Guided Tour of the Mosaics of Hagia Sophia with Photios Kontoglou

5. Why Catholicism Formulated the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary

The Soprano and the Miracle of the Holy Zoni

Gina Poulou, who is a soprano with the Greek National Opera, had the most astonishing experience. When the Holy Zoni, the relic of the Mother of God's girdle, was in Nea Ionia, Athens, in 2017, she venerated it. A few days before, a small tumor had appeared on her neck as had others in her breast. These unsettling symptoms, together with the pain she was feeling, terrified her and she was depressed at the thought of undergoing examinations and changing her daily routine.

Through the Internet, she learned that the Holy Zoni was in Athens and a friend of hers sent her a message, telling her to go and venerate it, both for help and also to gain strength and courage. She goes on to testify:

The Cholera Epidemic of Constantinople in 1871 and the Holy Zoni of the Panagia

In the year 1871 the city of Constantinople was plagued by a cholera epidemic that had traveled south from Russia and left thousands dead. In November, Patriarch Anthimos VI and the Holy Synod, after prayer, addressed a letter to the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi on Mount Athos in order to bring the sacred relic of the Holy Zoni to the City to bring the grace and the blessing of the Panagia to the people under trial. The cholera was raging and the people had no other hope than the Panagia.

The Patriarch was aware of the history of the Holy Zoni, how it helped eradicate plagues before, and out of paternal care for the mental, but also the physical health and salvation of his spiritual children in Constantinople, and in order to drive away the plague of cholera, he corresponded with Vatopaidi Monastery, so that the Holy Zoni can be transported quickly and by steamer, since its most obvious miraculous power had been ascertained many times and in difficult circumstances and on the basis of indisputable testimonies and proofs.

Saint Eanswythe, Abbess of Folkestone (+ 640)

St. Eanswythe of Folkstone (Feast Day - August 31)

Saint Eanswythe was born around 614, the only daughter of King Eadbald of Kent and his wife Emma, who was a Frankish princess. At the time of Eanswythe’s birth, her father was probably a pagan, while her mother was almost certainly a Christian. Therefore, it is highly likely that Eanswythe was baptized and raised as a Christian.

When she was two years old, her paternal grandfather King Ethelbert of Kent (Feb. 25) died. Saint Ethelbert had been baptized at Saint Martin’s Church in Canterbury by Saint Augustine of Canterbury (May 28). It was Saint Augustine who came to England in 597 with several monks in order to re-establish Christianity, which had almost been wiped out by the pagan Anglo-Saxons. These monks carried out their missionary work under the protection of King Ethelbert.

August 30, 2020

Homily One for the Twelfth Sunday of Matthew - On Wealth and the Wealthy (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily for the Twelfth Sunday of Matthew
On Wealth and the Wealthy

By St. Luke of Simferopol

You heard today the Gospel reading about the rich young man who did not want to share his fortune to become an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven. Then the Lord told His disciples that it was easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Before interpreting what Christ said to the rich young man, listen to what the apostle James says about the rich: "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you" (James 5:1-6).

Gospel Commentary for the Twelfth Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

Twelfth Sunday of Matthew - 19:16-26

By St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 63 on Matthew)

"And, behold, one came and said to Him, Good Master, by doing what, shall I inherit eternal life?" Matthew 19:16

Some indeed accuse this young man, as one dissembling and ill-minded, and coming with a temptation to Jesus, but I, though I would not say he was not fond of money, and under subjection to his wealth, since Christ in fact convicted him of being such a character, yet a dissembler I would by no means call him, both because it is not safe to venture on things uncertain, and especially in blame, and because Mark has taken away this suspicion; for he says, that "having come running unto Him, and kneeling to Him, he besought Him," and that "Jesus beheld him, and loved him." Mark 10:17-21

But great is the tyranny of wealth, and it is manifest hence; I mean, that though we be virtuous as to the rest, this ruins all besides. With reason has Paul also affirmed it to be the root of all evils in general. "For the love of money is the root of all evils," he says.

Sermon to the Rich (St. Basil the Great)

The following sermon To the Rich was probably delivered in the year 368, when most of Asia Minor was struck by a severe drought which caused great hardship, intensified by the greed of some who held back grain to inflate prices. At this time, St. Basil was a priest in the diocese of Caesarea, overseeing a very active ministry to the poor and ill; St. Gregory the Theologian describes Basil’s hospital at the gates of Caesarea as a virtual “city” (or. 43.63). The Greek text of Basil’s sermon is found in J.-P. Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, vol. 31, cols. 277C-304C.

Sermon to the Rich

By St. Basil the Great

And, behold, one came and said unto him, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" And he said unto him, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." He saith unto him, "Which?" Jesus said, "Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The young man saith unto him, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)

August 29, 2020

Beheading of Saint John the Baptist: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

August 29

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Matthew 14:1-13


At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus; and he said to his servants, "This is John the Baptist; he has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him." For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison, for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; because John said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter." And the king was sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came and took the body and buried it; and they went and told Jesus. Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.

August 28, 2020

Homily Three on the Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church: "The Hieratikon" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Hieratikon

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

One of the most important books for use in the worship of the Church is the so-called Hieratikon, which is always on the Holy Altar, next to the Sacred Gospel, because it is necessary for the priest who performs the Divine Liturgies. From the Hieratikon came the Archieratikon, which concerns the Bishops, and the Diakonikon, which concerns the Deacons.

It seems that the name Hieratikon was received from a publication of this book by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in 1895, when it was formerly called a small booklet (leaflet) which was considered incomplete. This is the reason why some Priests call the Hieratikon "the leaflet" (fylladion). The new edition was approved by the Patriarchal Synod.

Synaxis of the Saints of the Kiev Caves, Whose Relics Repose in the Far Caves of Venerable Theodosius

On this day, the 28th of August, the Church celebrates the Synaxis of the Holy Fathers of the Kiev Caves, whose relics repose in the Far Caves of Saint Theodosius. They have their own individual days of commemoration, but today we honor the whole assembly of these venerable saints who were a light upon the earth, guiding us on the path of salvation.

Venerable Theodosius, the Founder (May 3, August 14, September 2)

Venerable Agathon the Wonderworker (February 20)

Archimandrite Acindynus (+ 1235)

Venerable Ammon (October 4)

Bishop Amphilochius of Vladimir, Volhynia (October 10)

August 27, 2020

Homily Two on the Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church: "The Apostolos" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Apostolos

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Disciples of Christ are also called Apostles, because they were sent by Christ, first to Palestine and after Pentecost to all nations to preach the message of the Kingdom of God. Thus, the Apostles preached what they heard, what they saw, what they touched, what the Holy Spirit enlightened their minds with.

Some of the Apostles wrote Epistles to various local Churches, some wrote Catholic Epistles which were sent to all the Churches, and some others, such as the Disciples of Christ in the broadest sense of the word, recorded the events of the distribution of the gospel preaching and these texts are called the Acts of the Apostles.

August 26, 2020

Homily One on the Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church: "The Gospel" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Gospel

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

This year's sermons will refer to the Sacred Books that are in the Sacred Temples and are for the use of our worship, and without them we cannot perform the Sacred Services and the Mysteries of our Church. We must know of them, as our Church has chosen them through the ages. The first sacred and liturgical book is the Sacred Gospel, which is always on the Holy Altar, and in fact in the center of the Holy Altar, as the most sacred book of our Church.

When the Soldiers of Plastiras Wept for Hagia Sophia

By Nikolaos Zaimi

It was February 1919, when the then Lieutenant Colonel, Nikolaos Plastiras, one of the emblematic figures of the military and political history of Greece during the first half of the 20th century, together with the officers and soldiers of the 5/42 Evzoni Regiment, could not hold back their tears when, passing through Constantinople to go to the Ukrainian campaign, they saw Hagia Sophia. "And then it was that not an eye was without tears," Plastiras will write a few years later, remembering the event.

Departure for Ukraine

On January 15, 1919, the decision of the Greek government to take part in the allied campaign in Ukraine, with the participation of the I, II and XIII Division of the 1st Army Corps, under the orders of Lieutenant General Constantine Nieder, became known. Among the Regiments that would take part in the campaign was the Evzoni 5/42, which belonged to the XIII Division, whose command was recently taken over by Plastiras, leaving previously the 6th Infantry Regiment, with which his name was associated. On February 3, the departure of the units from the port of Eleftheri in Macedonia began in sections. Among them were the men of Plastiras, who boarded the Russian steamer "Emperor Nicholas". They crossed the Dardanelles and then arrived in Constantinople.

August 25, 2020

Is Patriarch Gennadios II Scholarios a Saint of the Church?

Fresco of Gennadios Scholarios at the Monastery of the Forerunner in Serres, Greece

By John Sanidopoulos

I have been asked about the sainthood of Patriarch Gennadios II Scholarios more than any other ecclesiastical figure. It seems obvious that the first Patriarch after the fall of Constantinople, who held an Orthodox position in matters of dogma, was a successor of St. Mark of Ephesus, a follower of the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas, and who reposed in a monastery in Serres would merit sainthood. However, despite all the reverence he gets for his contributions to the Church, the fact of the matter is, Patriarch Gennadios II Scholarios was never canonized.

But things aren't so simple. It seems that somehow in the late 20th century, maybe even the early 21st century, the Church of Greece acknowledged his sainthood, whether officially or unofficially I do not know, and assigned his feast to be celebrated with three other Patriarchs of Constantinople on August 25th. On top of this, I can trace at least two shrines on the Greek mainland, both monasteries of recent origin, dedicated to his name: the Monastery of Saint Gennadios Scholarios located in Livadi of Thessaloniki which has one abbot and one monk (see here and here); and the Metochion of Saint Gennadios Scholarios which is a dependency of Saint Katherine's Monastery of Mount Sinai founded in 2016 for nuns and is located in Upper Kotylio, a village in Gortyna, which is in southwest Arcadia, Greece (see here and here). These shrines even have new icons of Saint Gennadios, which did not exist before this time, though there is an old fresco depicting him at the Monastery of the Forerunner in Serres where he is buried, though he is without a halo (pictured above).

August 24, 2020

Teachings of St. Kosmas the Aitolos: Parables, Stories and Fragments


The Priceless Diamond

A merchant named Irrational had been in business for forty-fifty years. He never had any success. Then he found a purse. He opened it and found some counterfeit coins, some false pearls, and in the middle of the purse a diamond. He took the purse with the money and went to a money changer to see if it was genuine. Examining it, the money changer told the merchant that the money was counterfeit and that only the diamond was real. The merchant didn't believe him but took them and left and went to another money changer. He too said that all was counterfeit except for the diamond, which was valuable. The merchant was sad and took the diamond in his hand and with it the purse with the coins and he left.

On the way he met a blind man and said: "I want to see what power the diamond has."

Homily on the Martyrs Known as the White Mass (St. Augustine of Hippo)

Holy Martyrs Known as the White Mass (Feast Day - August 24)

Saint Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod (+ 1199)

St. Martyrius of Novgorod (Feast Day - August 24)

Saint Martyrius was born in Stara Rus. On the northeast side of the city, near the right bank of the Polista River he founded in the year 1192 the Transfiguration Monastery.

At the Novgorod cathedral, Saint Martyrius was chosen by lot after the death of Saint Gregory (May 24). On December 10, 1193 in Kiev, he was elevated to the rank of archbishop. Saint Martyrius became famous as an indefatigable builder of churches. In May 1195, he contracted for a church in the name of the Mother of God at the city gates. On September 13, 1196, he consecrated a church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ in a new women’s monastery at Lake Myachina.

August 23, 2020

Homily on the All-Revered Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)

By Elder Philotheos Zervakos

When the Patriarch Jacob fled from his father's presence because of the threat posed to him by his brother Esau, he came to a deserted place around sunset, took a rock, put it under his head, and fell asleep. Then he saw a ladder resting on the earth, and its top reached to heaven, and the Angels of God ascended and descended on it, and the Lord supported it above. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said: “How awesome this place is! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:17).

That mystical ladder was a type and image of the noetic ladder, of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, whose revered Dormition we joyously celebrate.

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew - Philanthropy and Hardheartedness (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Philanthropy and Hardheartedness

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Eleventh Sunday of Matthew - 18:23-35)

Today's Gospel reading is the well-known Parable of the Myriad of Talents that Christ spoke. According to the parable, the ruler forgave his servant the myriad talents he owed him, but then this servant not only did not forgive his fellow servant the lowest amount of one hundred dinars, but he also seemed very cruel to him. This parable reveals the philanthropy of God towards us, but also the hardheartedness that we show to our fellow human beings. We are not moved at all by the love and philanthropy of God and we are cruel.

Gospel Commentary for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

Eleventh Sunday of Matthew - 18:23-35

By St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 61 on Matthew)

"Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus says unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times, but, Until seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21

Peter supposed he was saying something great, wherefore also as aiming at greatness he added, "Until seven times?" For this thing, says he, which You have commanded to do, how often shall I do? For if he forever sins, but forever when reproved repents, how often do you command us to bear with this man? For with regard to that other who repents not, neither acknowledges his own faults, You have set a limit, by saying, "Let him be to you as the heathen and the publican;" but to this no longer so, but You have commanded to accept him.

How often then ought I to bear with him, being told his faults, and repenting? Is it enough for seven times?

August 22, 2020

Saint Ariadne, Empress of the Romans (+ 515)

St. Ariadne the Empress of the Romans (Feast Day - August 22);
the bust of Ariadne is at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The Roman Empire had clashed with barbarians on the northern border for centuries, but lost this war during the reign of Emperor Valens (364-378). In the war with the Goths, Emperor Valens died on the battlefield and Rome was on the brink of collapse. Emperor Theodosius, who came to the throne in such a period, decided to be friends instead of fighting barbarians.

This policy was politically successful and brought prosperity. On the other hand, it led to the rise of foreign soldiers in the army, such as Goths, Vandals, Germans and Isaurians. For example, General Aspar of Germanic origin played a major role in the crowning of Emperor Leo I (457-474).

If it were possible, Aspar himself would have wanted to become an emperor. However, it was still not acceptable for a barbarian to come to the Roman throne at that time. However, this rule would change only one generation later. An Isaurian general who married the daughter of Emperor Leo changed his name to Zeno. He would be the first barbarian-born emperor in Roman history.

August 21, 2020

The Panagia Loves the Beauty of Her Monasteries

Kernitsa Monastery in Vytina

By Father Dionysios Tampakis

There was once a pious farmer near Vytina* who wanted to cut wood for the coming winter. So he went to the Abbess of the Holy Monastery in Kernitsa** and asked her if he had a blessing to cut some wood from the area of ​​the Monastery.

She gave him permission immediately, seeing how poor he was.

That night, however, when the poor farmer had fallen asleep, he saw in full glory the Panagia with unspeakable beauty, giving him the following order:

A Video Tour of Hagia Sophia After It Reopened From the Pandemic and Before It Became a Mosque (Filmed on June 7, 2020)

A Video Tour of Some Byzantine and Greek Sites of Pontus, Platana and Trebizond

This documentary was filmed on August 15, 2020, which was the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, and begins at the first Divine Liturgy at Panagia Soumela in five years, having been recently reopened again after restoration work. After showing us the restored monastery, it then moves on to sites in Platana, such as the 19th century Greek elementary school and the newly-restored 14th century Church of the Archangels. 2,000 Greeks lived here a little over a hundred years ago, but today it has a population of about 110,000 Turks. In Trebizond they visit the old Church of Hagia Sophia, which today functions as a mosque, as well as many other important sites of Byzantine and Greek history in the region (Villa of Kapayiannidis, Panagia Chrysokephalos - Fatih Buyuk Camii, Tomb of Maria from Livera, Saint Eugenios - Yeni Cuma Camii, Mimarlar odası, Kanuni Anadolu Lisesi, Boztepe, Soğuksu).

Ruined 15th Century Byzantine Church in Albania is Restored

By Fr. Elias Makos

The Byzantine Church of the Holy Trinity in the Opar area of ​​Korce, at the exit of the village of Agia Triada, at the peak, apart from being an architectural ornament, is also a typical example of the reconstruction of the Church of Albania from 1991 onwards.

A building of the 15th century, from the decay of time and abandonment in the years of communism, it had collapsed to a great extent.

It was literally in ruins. The perimeter walls and the roof were damaged, with the result that whole parts of its original form had collapsed to the ground.

As with other monuments, Archbishop Anastasios secured money and the church was restored.

Chora Monastery in Constantinople Resource Page

Saint Theodore, Founder of the Monastery of Chora

A Guide to Chora Monastery

Virtual Tour of Chora Monastery (Kariye Museum) with Şerif Yenen

The Journey to Bethlehem in Chora

Historic and Revered Chora Church in Istanbul Officially Violated By Being Converted to a Mosque

August 19, 2020

A Clear Photo of the Cross on the Forehead of the Snakes of the Panagia in Kefallonia

For years people have asked me for a clear photo of the reported cross on the forehead of the Snakes of the Panagia, which the faithful have observed for decades but for which until now a clear photo never really existed. On August 13, 2020 a clear photo emerged to show the famous cross on the forehead of the snakes. This photo was taken at the Chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Markopoulo, one of the two villages, with Agrinia, of Kefallonia where the snakes make their annual appearance from August 6th to the 15th, and which has become famous throughout the world as a miracle, with many other miracles accompanying the event. This year only two snakes made their appearance in Markopoulo, though it is an improvement from last year where only one appeared for the season; this photo is one of the two snakes from this year, as can be seen by the date and time stamp on the photo.

Synaxarion of the Holy Great Martyr Andrew the General and the 2,593 Soldiers With Him

St. Andrew Stratelates and his Companions (Feast Day - August 19)


To Andrew
Andrew was a true general,
He was beheaded and his manliness endures.

To Those Martyred With Him
Standing with the beheaded mass of soldiers in a pool of blood,
Were You who produced the pool of water.

On the nineteenth Andrew was beheaded radiantly.

During the reign of the irreverent Maximianus, in the year 289, he was a soldier in the East under the commander-in-chief of all the royal orders, whose name was Antiochus. He was sent by this commander-in-chief of his with other fellow soldiers to fight against the Persians, for they had gone beyond their border and entered into the border of the Romans, where they laid siege and plundered. Having therefore been sent there, he called upon Christ, and he urged his companions to also call upon Christ, and in doing so they defeated the Persians, banishing and destroying them. With this unhoped for victory, he converted to the faith of Christ his companion soldiers.

August 18, 2020

Saints John V and George I, Patriarchs of Constantinople

Sts. John V and George I of Constantinople (Feast Day - August 18)


To George.
You exhorted George O my Christ,
Expect death, I come to call you above.

To John.
The faces of the Church are saddened,
Deprived and carrying off John.

John V was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 669 to 674 or 675. Before this he was the Skeuophylax of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and Protekdikos and Chartophylax of the Patriarchate. It was during his patriarchate that the distressing first Siege of Constantinople (674–678) was undertaken by the rigid Umayyad Caliphate. During the troubled times of the Christological disputes he was a staunch Orthodox in his faith and teaching. The length of his rule as Patriarch is uncertain as different sources have recorded it differently. Kallistos Nikephoros noted it as four years and a few months, while the catalogues of Leoglavios and Nikephoros record it as five years and nine months. Theophanes recorded it as six years.

Holy Martyr Juliana near Strobilos


Juliana was lifted up by noetic beings,
The place of her martyrdom adorned with blood.

On the 18th of August we commemorate the Holy Martyr Juliana, near Strobilos of Lycia.*


* She may be the same person as the Holy Martyr Juliana we commemorate on December 21st, who contested in Nicomedia. Today's commemoration may be in honor of a church that once stood in her honor near Strobilos of Lycia.

Holy Martyr Leo of Myra

Holy Martyr Leo (Feast Day - August 18)


Leo contested near the sea here below,
And found a sea of good things in the heavens.

The Holy Martyr Leo contested off the coast of Myra in Lycia.*


* He may be the same Holy Martyr Leo who contested in Lycia that is commemorated on February 18.

Holy Four Venerable Ascetics

Holy Four Venerable Ascetics (Feast Day - August 18)


A brotherhood of four men died,
As one their limbs were buried in seclusion.

The Holy Four Venerable Ascetics met their end in peace.

August 17, 2020

The Repose of Hieromonk Fr. Nikolaos Koumentakis (+ August 15, 2020)

By George G. Spanos,
Shipping & Innovative Business Consultant, Author

The Hieromonk Fr. Nikolaos Koumentakis, undoubtedly made a mark on the spiritual life of Eastern Attica, having Mati as his center, for the last at least fifty years. Born in 1921, he became a priest at a mature age, being the link of a long unbroken priestly chain of Cretan Levites, whose traces are lost in the history of the mainland.

He was appointed pastor in Mati, Attica in the early 1970s, at the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos. When he decided, by divine inspiration, to build a new larger Church of the Panagia in Mati - something that had "looked bad" to various of our fellow citizens as excessive for little Mati - Fr. Nikolaos would say in the end, that Mati would receive something great while the church itself would be small in comparison. This is what the great Saint of our time, Porphyrios Kavsokalyvitis, had said to him, when he had visited him in Oropos in the 1970s. The certainty of these words was seen from early on. Immediately after the completion of the new white Sacred Church of the Dormition, a characteristic gem of the wider area, it was visited on Sundays and feasts by families from all over Attica.

August 16, 2020

Synaxarion of our Venerable Father Joseph the Hesychast

Poetry and Composition by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
Biography by Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi
Translated and Edited by John Sanidopoulos

On this day [August 16th] we commemorate our Venerable and God-Bearing Father Joseph who is respected among the hesychasts, in that he showed martyric perseverance throughout his life, and he departed to the Lord on the 15th of this month. His service was changed to today due to the venerable Feast of the Theotokos.


You translocated in haste from earth to the vault of the heavens,
Having previously been there through theoria.

Throughout the thousand-year long history of saint-nurturing Mount Athos, countless holy figures have been distinguished. This fact constitutes the greatest benefit which the Holy Mountain has given to the Church and to the world. Many of those venerable monks have been marked out and widely recognized by the flock of the Church while still alive, some after their repose, while others wished to remain anonymous even after their death.

Homily for the Tenth Sunday of Matthew - Joy and Pain (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Joy and Pain

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Tenth Sunday of Matthew - 17:14-23)

The miracle of the healing of the lunatic young man we heard today, happened after the descent of Christ from Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured and showed the glory of His Deity to the three Disciples who attended this miraculous event. This shows the special importance of the event which we will see with the small commentary that will follow.

On Mount Tabor the Disciples were found worthy to see the glory of the deity of Christ, heard the voice of the Father and saw the bright cloud that overshadowed them. It is the glory of the Holy Trinity, and it was the revelation of the Kingdom of God. Because for us Orthodox the Kingdom of God is not a created reality, but the vision and the sharing of the glory of God. At the same time, the Disciples saw the two Old Testament Prophets, Moses and Elijah, conversing with Christ. They rejoiced so much that at one point the Apostle Peter expressed the desire to remain there permanently, and to set up three tents, for Christ and the two Prophets, and for them to remain there to keep seeing His glory. This image, but also the desire of the Disciples, shows what Paradise will be, how those who are found worthy to enter Paradise will live. It is an ongoing Divine Liturgy, a constant vision of the glory of the Triune God.

Gospel Commentary for the Tenth Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)

Tenth Sunday of Matthew - 17:14-23

By St. John Chrysostom

(From Homily 57 and 58 on Matthew)

"And when they had come to the multitude, there came to Him a man, kneeling down to Him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is lunatic, and sore vexed; for ofttimes he falls into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him unto Your disciples, and they could not cure him." Matthew 17:14-16

August 15, 2020

Holy New Hieromartyr Christos of Ioannina (+ 1823)

St. Christos of Ioannina (Feast Day - August 15)

In August 1823, the Turkish militia in the region of Ioannina started a particularly violent suppression of the Christians there initiated by Sultan Mahmut II. The hieromonk Christos comforted and encouraged the suffering Christians, and for this he was arrested, beaten and, for refusing to give up his Christian confession, was condemned to death.

On August 15th the Orthodox Christians were celebrating the festival of the Dormition of the Theotokos, and the Turks chose this time to execute the Saint. Furthermore, they deliberately chose to mock the Savior's Passion in the way they devised to kill him. Father Christos was crowned with thorns, stripped and spat upon, and nailed to a cross, which was set up by the plane trees at Kalou Tzesme.

Celebrating Ecclesiastical Festivals in a Godly Way (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The troparia composed by the hymn writers of the Church for the Christians to celebrate the feasts, as well the feast of the Dormition of the Panagia today, are masterpieces, from the structure, the images and the cosmetic adjectives they use, as well as from their content, which answer the great existential problems of mankind, such as matters of life and death. When one reads these troparia carefully one is amazed by their wisdom and beauty.

The Canon we chanted today in the Service of Matins is included in this category and is the work of Saint Kosmas the Poet, who was the step-brother of Saint John of Damascus. This Canon has amazing troparia that analyze the content of the feast and show its importance. The acrostic of these troparia, that is, the initial letter of all the troparia, has the following phrase: "the godly-minded kept festival" (πανηγυριζέτωσαν οι θεόφρονες). I would like to make a small comment on this phrase.

Why Catholicism Formulated the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary

By George S. Gabriel Ph.D.

In 1950, in his "apostolic constitution," Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII decreed as a dogma the ancient belief in the bodily assumption of Mary into Heaven. On the face of it, Rome was taking a step in the right direction by formally accepting a dogma that the Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic faith has always held. But in reality, the step was a Papal retrenchment.

At that time, the ancient belief that the Mother of God truly died and then was taken bodily to Heaven was still held by many Roman Catholic clergy and laity, despite the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which, a century earlier, had exempted Mary from the consequences of the fall of Adam. But there were also many who, in anticipation of the forthcoming Papal decree, argued that Mary did not die. They were willing to allow the possibility only that she could have fallen into a light slumber, but her soul never left her body and she never died.

Three Ways the Panagia Magnified the Lord (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In today's great Theometoric feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, beloved Christians, there has been appointed by the Church for us in the Service of Matins to read the Gospel passage referring to the visit of the Panagia to Elizabeth, after her Annunciation and the conception of Christ. As soon as Elizabeth called her the mother of Christ and showed deep reverence for her, the Panagia put forth a hymn and doxology to God. The first verse of this Doxology is:

"My soul magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46). In other words, "My soul glorifies the Lord."

Dormition of the Theotokos: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary

August 15

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Luke 1:39-49, 56


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.

August 14, 2020

The Icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos as an Icon of the Church (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, my dear brethren, is the greatest feast of the Mother of God in the annual festal cycle. In as much as our Panagia is celebrated in the middle of Summer, and as we go to many churches and many chapels, which are dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos, this feast acquires greater brilliance and causes emotion in our soul.

On this day we kiss the sacred icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. In the middle of the icon we see the all-immaculate body of our Panagia on a bed. Behind the body we see Christ holding in his hands a small infant swaddled, which is the soul of the Panagia, that has just left her body. Around the Panagia and Christ are the holy Apostles, who came from the ends of the Universe "with a sign by the authority of God". Angels also stand in ecstasy. There are also three Bishops, namely Saint Dionysios the Areopagite, the Apostle Timothy and Saint Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens. Everyone sings hymns to the Panagia. And in front of the Panagia's bed there is a man, whose hands are cut off and cling onto the body of the Panagia. This is the Jew Jephonia, who went to dishonor the body of the Panagia and immediately the Archangel cut off his hands.

Holy New Martyr Nazarius, Metropolitan of Kutaisi-Gaenati in Georgia, With his Companions (+ 1924)

Metropolitan Nazarius of Kutaisi-Gaenati was born in 1872 in the village of Didi Jikhaishi in Imereti. His forefathers belonged to a long lineage of clergy, and the future metropolitan was nurtured in the Church from the earliest years of his youth.

Nazarius (known in the world as Joseph) received his education at Kutaisi Theological School. In 1892 he graduated with honors from Tbilisi Seminary and began to serve in the Church, first as a deacon and later (from February 9, 1893) as a priest. In 1904, after a series of personal tragedies (first his wife died, then his two daughters), Nazarius was tonsured a monk. On November 4, 1918, he was enthroned as Metropolitan of Kutaisi.

Translation of the Relics of our Venerable Father Theodosius of the Kiev Caves

Translation of the Relics of our Venerable Father Theodosius of the Kiev Caves
(Feast Day - Aug. 14)

Saint Theodosius of the Kiev Caves Lavra died in 1074 after a short illness. Before his death, he asked to be buried at night in the cave where he performed his seclusion during Lent. His request was fulfilled eighteen years later.

In 1091 the abbot John and the brethren of the Lavra decided that the body of Theodosius must be transferred to the Dormition Church, which he had built before his death, and which was consecrated only in 1089. Three days before the feast of the Dormition, the monks began to excavate the grave, and the incorrupt relics of Theodosius were found. The solemn transfer of the Saint's relics to the church took place on the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, with a gathering of many bishops and abbots of monasteries in Kiev. During the Mongol invasion, the relics of Theodosius were put under the shelter at the western doors of the temple, where they are to this day.

August 13, 2020

On Self-Examination (St. Tikhon of Zadonsk)

By St. Tikhon of Zadonsk (+ 1783)

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves" (2 Cor. 13:5).

Glory to God! We are all called Christians; we all confess the one God in Three Persons, the living and immortal God; we were all baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity of One Essence: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; we all believe in Him Who was crucified and rose from the dead, Jesus Christ the Son of God, and, as a sign of this, sign ourselves with the Cross; we all enter the holy Church, and we pray and we entreat, we sing and we praise the holy name of God; we all listen to the holy word of God; we all commune Life and the Heavenly Kingdom, and we say in the holy Symbol of Faith: "I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come."

Saint Dorotheos of Gaza Resource Page

St. Dorotheos of Gaza (Feast Day - August 13)


Discerning words flowed from you,
O Dorotheos the boast of monastics.

Holy Abba Dorotheos of Gaza

Abba Dorotheos of Gaza as a Model for our Lives

Holy Abba Seridos of Gaza

Saint Dositheos the Submissive, Disciple of Abba Dorotheos

Saints Barsanuphios and John Resource Page

On the Holy Lenten Fast (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

Directions on the Spiritual Life (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

Homily on the Conscience (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

On Resentment (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

An Interpretation of Certain Sayings of St. Gregory the Theologian Found in Paschal Hymns (Abba Dorotheos of Gaza)

Homily on the Conscience (St. Dorotheos of Gaza)

By St. Dorotheos of Gaza

When God created man, he breathed into him something divine, as it were a hot and bright spark added to reason, which lit up the mind and showed him the difference between right and wrong. This is called the conscience, which is the law of his nature. This is compared to the well which Jacob dug, as the Fathers say, and which the Philistines filled up. [cf. Genesis 26:15] That is, to this law of conscience adhered the patriarchs and all the holy men of old before the written law, and they were pleasing to God. But when this law was buried and trodden underfoot by men through the onset of sin, we needed a written law, we needed the holy prophets, we needed the instruction of our Master, Jesus Christ, to reveal it and raise it up and bring to life through the observance of the Commandments that buried spark.

Homily Two on the Transfiguration of the Savior (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of the Athonite Gregoriou Monastery


The feast of the Divine Transfiguration of the Lord has profound and many theological meanings. From time to time we hear them from the sacred hymns and from the sacred readings, but here too we have said a few things. Today I want to draw your attention to a certain point, that the Transfiguration of the Lord is not only a Christological event, but it is also an anthropological event. It is done not only to show the glory of Christ the Savior, but it is also done to show the glory of a man in Christ. Man after his fall tarnished the heavenly beauty he had. And since then the clear image of God in man has not been seen. It should have to be revealed therefore what man really is, how much glory and how much beauty he has. This true man was restored by Christ. And he revealed it on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Synaxis of the Minsk Icon of the Mother of God

Synaxis of the Minsk Icon of the Mother of God
(Feast Day - August 13)

According to legend,* the Minsk Icon of the Mother of God was brought from Korsun (Chersonesos, now part of Sevastopol in the Crimea) to Kiev and was kept in the Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, or Church of the Tithes, erected at the end of the 10th century (the consecration of the church in 996 is commemorated on May 12). Archpriest Pavel Afonsky, who wrote an article about the icon for the 400th anniversary of its acquisition, suggested that the icon was transferred to Kiev by the Grand Duke of Kiev Vladimir Svyatoslavovich after his wedding to the Roman princess Anna and his baptism in Korsun in 988. Kiev was repeatedly raided by conquerors (in 1169, 1204, 1240). The icon could have been in this temple until 1240, when during the invasion of the Tatar-Mongols, Kiev was destroyed, and the existence of the Church of the Tithes was interrupted until 1635. Information about the icon is lost for more than two hundred years. Perhaps the residents of Kiev hid it, and later it could have decorated the Kiev Cathedral of Hagia Sophia.