September 30, 2020

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


Below is the monthly review for the month of September 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.

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


The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Menaia

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Most of the volumes of liturgical books are titled Menaia, and each volume-book bears the name Menaion with the indication of each month, that is, the Menaion of September, the Menaion of October, etc. And because there are twelve months in a year, it becomes obvious why there are twelve Menaia.

We do not know exactly the evolution of the Menaia, but it seems that in the beginning there were small collections of the apolytikia of the saints who celebrate every day, with a little reference to their lives. Then various services of saints were added and the final configuration took place in Constantinople, from which most of the hymns of the Menaia come. Later the Menaia were completed by other services, which is done even in our days, since new saints and new local festivals are added, by modern hymnographers.

September 29, 2020

Synaxarion of the Holy New Venerable Martyr Malachias of Lindos


On the 29th of this month (September), we commemorate the Holy and Glorious New Venerable Martyr Malachias of Lindos, who had a martyric end in Jerusalem.


In Zion he was made worthy of the divine passion,
Communing glorious one as the friend of God.
On the twenty-ninth Malachias was lifted on the bitter scaffold.
He was from Lindos, a city of the island of Rhodes, the son of pious parents whose names were George the Priest and Christina. He was raised in the education and admonition of the Lord, in accordance with the apostolic word, and when he was of a mature age he was dressed in the holy schema of a monk, with the blessed one giving his whole soul and mind to the accomplishment of evangelical conduct.

Why Saint Kyriakos is Not Called a "Hermit" But Instead Called an "Anchorite"

I did a Google search of "St. Kyriakos" this morning, since it is his feast day, and coupled it with his traditional epithet of "Anchorite", receiving results that were very disappointing. On the first page of the results, there were only two results given with the correct epithet of "Anchorite", namely my post on him back in 2015 as well as his Wikipedia page. The rest were official pages of various Orthodox jurisdictions who gave him the epithet "Hermit" instead. 

Now most people will see this as not that big of a deal. After all, an "anchorite" and a "hermit" are basically the same thing, right? Well, no, not really. An "anchorite" is traditionally defined as someone who "withdraws" from the world to dedicate their life to God, while a "hermit" is someone who lives in a deserted place alone. Is it just a matter of semantics? Absolutely not. In Greek St. Kyriakos is specifically called an "Anchorite" (Κυριακός ο Αναχωρητής) for a reason, and is never referred to as a "Hermit" for a reason as well.

September 28, 2020

The Service of Small Vespers to Saint Isaac the Syrian


The following Service of Small Vespers to Saint Isaac the Syrian, together with a Great Vespers and a Matins Service, were composed by the eminent hymnographer of Mount Athos, Monk Gerasimos Mikragiannanitis, who was commissioned to write them by St. Paisios the Athonite, out of his deep love and reverence for St. Isaac, having established September 28th as his feast day.
Four verses have been appointed, and the Stichera Prosomoia are chanted. 
Tone 2. When suspended on the Cross.

When you received the immaterial fire, of the love of Christ in your heart Father, then you followed in your youth, O thrice-blessed Isaac, Christ the Savior, having denied a passionate attachment to the world; wherefore, God-bearing monastic, with earnest self-control, you cut off the offshoots of the passions.

Synaxarion of the Finding of the Relics of the Venerable Neophytos the Recluse of Cyprus

On this day (28th of September) we commemorate the Finding of the Relics of Venerable Neophytos the Recluse of Cyprus.


The faithful removed the dust from you Neophytos,
Indicating that you live, having passed over to another place.
He, who due to his love for God, forsook his homeland, parents and every worldly pleasure, to follow Christ and was now found worthy to attain every virtue by divine grace, so that his all-revered relic was venerated by the pious, which granted healings to those who kiss it with faith, and which was hidden, became manifested again after 550 years, at the Monastery of Enkleistra where he lived, which was named after him, having lived as a recluse in a cave next to it for 50 years, in which he followed the path of asceticism.

Synaxis of the Saints of the Kiev Caves, Whose Relics Repose in the Near Caves of Venerable Anthony

The Synaxis of Venerable Fathers who are venerated in the Near Caves of Saint Anthony, is now celebrated on September 28. This general commemoration was originally on the first Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (i.e. after September 21).
The general commemoration of the Venerable Fathers of the Near Caves of Saint Anthony on the Saturday after the Leave-taking of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross dates to the year 1670. During the restoration of the Caves, which had been damaged by an earthquake, some of the relics of the ancient ascetics were uncovered and a church was built in honor of the Exaltation of the Venerable Cross.

September 27, 2020

Homily on the First Sunday of Saint Luke (St. John of Kronstadt)

By Saint John of Kronstadt
“And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake” (Luke 5:6).
My beloved brethren, today the Gospel according to Luke was read concerning the Lord Jesus Christ’s preaching of the word of God from the ship on the lake of Gennesaret; then concerning the Lord’s command that the fisherman Peter cast his nets into the deep, and the unusually large catch of fish, from which the nets broke and the ships began to sink; concerning the fishermen’s terror at such a miraculous catch, Peter’s perception of Christ’s divine might, and his profound sense of his own weakness; and Peter’s calling from fisherman to fisher of men, and his speedy following after Him (Luke 5:1-11). Peter’s following is a miracle of Christ. 
We congratulate the simple, humble, and hardworking fisherman, Peter, for being raised to the rank of Apostle and fisher of men; as well as the other fishermen – James, John, and Andrew – for they all followed Christ and became His disciples and Apostles at the same time, marvelously accomplishing their saving work by catching the race of man from the depths of his sinful deception and vanity, each according to his measure.

Excerpts from the Sermon for the First Sunday of Luke (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria
 (Sermons from the Gospel of Luke: Excerpts)
5:2. And He saw two ships standing by the lake, but the fishermen were gone out of them, and, were washing their nets.
Let us admire the skillfulness of the method employed in making them a prey who were to make prey of the whole earth; even the holy Apostles, who, though themselves well skilled in fishing, yet fell into Christ's meshes, that they also, letting down the drag-net of the Apostolic preachings, might gather unto Him the inhabitants of the whole world. For verily He somewhere said by one of the holy prophets, "Behold I send many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall catch them as fish: and afterwards I will send many hunters, and they shall hunt them as game." By the fishers He means the holy Apostles; and by the hunters, those who successively became the rulers and teachers of the holy churches. And observe, I pray, that He not only preaches, but also displays signs, giving thereby pledges of His power, and confirming His words by the display of miracles: for after He had sufficiently conversed with the multitudes, He returns to His usual mighty works, and by means of their pursuits as fishers catches the disciples as fish: that men may know that His will is almighty, and that the creation ministers to His most godlike commands. 
5:4. And when He ceased speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep.
As He had now taught them sufficiently, and it was fitting also to add some divine work to His words for the benefit of the spectators, He bade Simon and his companions push off a little from the land, and let down the net for a drought. But they replied, that they had been labouring the whole night, and had caught nothing: in the name, however, of Christ, they let down the net, and immediately it was full of fish; in order that by a visible fact, and by a type and representation, miraculously enacted, they might be fully convinced that their labor would not be unrewarded, nor the zeal fruitless which |74 they displayed in spreading out the net of the Gospel teaching; for that most certainly they should catch within it the shoals of the heathen. But observe this, that neither Simon nor his companions could draw the net to land; and therefore, being speechless from fright and astonishment:----for their wonder had made them mute:----they beckoned, it says, to their partners, those, that is, who shared their labours in fishing, to come and help them in securing their prey. For many have taken part with the holy Apostles in their labors, and still do so, especially such as search into the meaning of what is written in the holy Gospels; and others besides them, even the pastors and teachers and rulers of the people, who are skilled in the doctrines of truth. For still is the net drawn, while Christ fills it, and summons unto conversion those in the depths of the sea, according to the Scripture phrase; those, that is to say, who live in the surge and waves of worldly things.
5:8. And when Simon Peter saw it.
For this reason also Peter, carried back to the memory of his former sins, trembles and is afraid, and as being impure ventures not to receive Him Who is pure: and his fear was laudable: for he had been taught by the law to distinguish between the holy and the profane.

Homily on the First Sunday of Luke (Metr. Panteleimon of Antinoes)

 By Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
In today’s Gospel reading St. Peter with the rest of the holy Apostles were astonished at the catch of fish which they had caught. Christ our Lord had sat in St. Peter’s boat and was teaching the people. The Disciples had worked very hard all night long, but they had caught nothing. St. Peter at the commandment of Christ let down the net and then God’s blessings came, for “they caught a great number of fish” (Luke 5:6).
Obedience to God’s Will is man’s first and foremost duty. Second most important is to carry out His Divine Commandments. The godly man strives to conform himself to whatever God wishes. Man through obedience to God identifies himself with God, and his will with God’s Divine Will.

Homily on the First Sunday of Luke (Metr. Sotirios of Pisidia)

By Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia

What should be admired first from what the Evangelist Luke told us today? The people of Galilee, who thirsted to hear the words of Jesus? They filled the shore of Lake Gennesaret as soon as they learned that Jesus was there, and they longed to see Him and hear Him. His word sweetened their hearts and gave peace, strength and enlightenment. They had never heard such words before! Even His enemies, the guards of the Hebrew high priests, after being sent to seize Jesus, confessed: “No man ever spoke like this Man” (John 7:46). And instead of arresting Jesus, they were fascinated and listened to him! Let us admire the simplicity of the Lord, who decided to get into Simon (Peter)’s fishing-boat, so His listeners could see Him better, and speak to them.
Or the obedience of Peter to Jesus, who told him to go out fishing around noon time? An experienced fisherman like Peter knew that fish were not caught in the day time! The other fishermen would maybe mock them or laugh when they see them throw their nets out for fishing at that time. After all, last night he could not catch any fish, so he expects a catch now? But Peter willingly obeyed Christ! Let us still admire the multitude of fish caught in such a short time, and at that time of day, so that not only was Peter’s boat filled, but the other Zebedee boat as well, to the point where they were in danger of sinking.

September 26, 2020

The Original Copy of the Gospel of John in Ephesus?

The Apostle John writing his Gospel
The Chronicon Paschale is a seventh century Christian chronicle of the history of the world written in Greek, probably in Constantinople, whose anonymous author called it an Epitome of the ages from Adam the first man to the 20th year of the reign of the most August Heraclius.  
The work starts with an extract from Philo, On the Life of Moses, Book 3.  Then it says, “So much for Philo”, and tells us that after the fall of Jerusalem under Vespasian, various ecclesiastical writers discussed the question of the date of Easter, including Peter of Alexandria, an unknown Tricentius, the great Athanasius, and Epiphanios. We then pass into material on the subject itself, beginning with Peter of Alexandria from his lost work on Easter, written towards the end of the third century.

Metastasis of Saint John the Theologian: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Metastasis of the Holy and Glorious Apostle and 
Evangelist John the Theologian

September 26

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to John 21:14-25


The At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me." Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" So, the word went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; but Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

September 25, 2020

Pascal's Wager and the Coronavirus

I will begin the ecclesiological sermons that I promised you, my beloved Christians of our Metropolis, but I consider it necessary to write to you a little more about the coronavirus.

1. We were at peace in other respects, but this evil has befallen us, which is reaping humanity. The doctors told us to take measures to protect ourselves from the evil, and the two basic measures are to keep our distance from each another and to wear the protective mask when we leave our homes and are among one another. The means were accepted and blessed by our Church and we received an order to transfer them to you. This I did as your Bishop. In fact, as you will remember from last year, along with these things I told you to pray and show repentance for our sins. Whatever evil that takes place is because of our sins. "Repent, my Christians," I said to you and I say to you. For even if the coronavirus were to be fought, another evil would come upon us, if we do not repent. But you do not care, because you do not associate the various evils with sin. Anyway!…

Homily Eight on the Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church: The "Triodion" and the "Pentecostarion" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Triodion and the Pentecostarion

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Among the important books that remain in the analogion of the Chanters are two very powerful books called the Triodion and the Pentecostarion, and refer to two homonymous periods of the Church. The Triodion begins on the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and ends on Holy Saturday, and the Pentecostarion begins on Easter then goes up till Pentecost and ends on the Sunday of All Saints. It is a period that constitutes the heart of the entire ecclesiastical year.

The Triodion was named after the two separate words "three" and "odes". The poetic form of the canon introduced by Saint John of Damascus in the eighth century consists of nine odes. However, during this period, instead of chanting the nine odes, three odes are chanted, that is, always the eighth and the ninth odes, and every day one of the other odes, which is why this period is named Triodion.

The period of the Triodion is divided into three periods. First is the period of the first three weeks (Sundays of the Publican and Pharisee, the Prodigal Son, and Meatfare), second is the period of forty days until the Friday before Lazarus Saturday, and third is Great Week.

The Triodion is a period of preparation for Easter, so that Christians can truly celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as their own resurrection. As all matters of our life are made with conditions, so it is in the spiritual life, that is, conditions are needed. Athletes are trained to take part in small or great sporting events, and spiritual athletes, who want to defeat the devil, sin and death, must train in order to prepare themselves for Christ.

Therefore, the period of the Triodion was considered the period of the Church in order for the catechumens and those coming to Illumination to be properly prepared, so that they could be baptized on Holy Saturday and become members of the Church. Together with the catechumens the baptized also lived this revival of the Grace of Baptism, thus this period was considered important for all.

The whole structure of the Triodion period was formed through the centuries and was completed around the fifteenth century, and its character is solemn, which is why it was formerly called "the solemn Triodion". The troparia are distinguished for their theology and in fact their neptic and hesychastic theology, which shows the ascetic dimension of the Orthodox Church. The Church collected what was most exquisitely created by the sacred hymnographers, invested it with its wonderful music and this creates a wonderful atmosphere of "joyful-sorrow". The services have been completed with an amazing spiritual, theological, ecclesiastical and ascetical wealth.

The Pentecostarion was so named because it refers to fifty days, from the day of Easter until the day of Pentecost. This period is associated with four major Despotic Feasts, namely the Feast of Pascha; the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, when Christ went to the Temple of Solomon and celebrated the Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles and proclaimed Himself as the Word and Wisdom of God, the Light of the World; the Feast of the Ascension at which Christ ascended with His body into heaven; and the Feast of Pentecost, since on that day the Holy Spirit descended on the Disciples and established them as members of His Body. This Feast of Pentecost is celebrated by our Church for a whole week until the Sunday of All Saints, which shows that the purpose of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God is the sanctification of humanity, their theosis.

If the period of the Triodion is characterized as a "solemn Triodion", the period of the Pentecostarion is characterized as a "joyful" period. When one reads the troparia of that period, one observes that they are adorned by a theological wealth. The canons of the feasts have been made by great hymnographers and theologians, such as John of Damascus and Joseph the Hymnographer, Kosmas the Poet, Andrew of Crete, Germanos, Theophanes, Anatolios, Joseph the Studite, etc., who connected the events of Holy Scripture with the wonderful homilies of the Fathers of the Church, especially of Saint Gregory the Theologian, Basil the Great and Saint John Chrysostom.

Both of these books, the Triodion and the Pentecostarion, are two collections made by the greatest hymnographers, who were brought to awareness by the Church, but also by the whole of humanity, who with their amazing references to Scriptural events and excellent knowledge of the Greek language, gave us theological and literary masterpieces. These were invested into by other prominent composers-chanters and became a treasure trove of universal heritage.
The Triodion and the Pentecostarion are centered around Easter. Before this period is a period of preparation and after this period there is a period of spiritual fruitfulness. All the troparia connect theology with history, compunction with joy, Cross with Resurrection, union with Christ and the Holy Spirit.

The Orthodox Church is a continuous theological festival, it is the workshop of holiness and the place of civilization.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

September 24, 2020

The Mill and Monastic Cell of Saint Silouan the Athonite

St. Silouan working in the mill 
In his book, St. Silouan the Athonite (1991), Elder Sophrony (Sakharov), the disciple of Saint Silouan, writes of the Saint’s time in the mill of Saint Panteleimon Monastery on the Holy Mountain, where he also devoted himself entirely to prayer (p. 25):

His first “obedience” was to work in the Monastery mill. Those were flourishing days for Russian monasticism on Mount Athos. Saint Panteleimon had expanded until it stood like a small city in the surrounding “desert.” The number of brethren rose to almost two thousand, and from Russia visitors and worshippers came in their hundreds, many of them making a long stay in the Monastery’s large hostelries. All this kept the mill extremely busy. Yet Brother Simeon [St. Silouan’s name before monastic tonsure], who slept so little and ate so sparingly, who ceaselessly devoted himself to ardent prayer, shedding abundant and at times despairing tears, punctually performed the hard work he had been set, each day lifting and transporting a heavy weight of sacks of flour.

Saint Thekla the Martyr Resource Page

St. Thekla (Feast Day - September 24)


He saved you, Thekla, when He rent the rock,
He at whose passion once the rocks were rent.
On the twenty fourth a rock received Thekla.

The Shrine to Saint Thekla in the Venetial Wall of Nicosia

In the Cypriot city of Nicosia, on the south side of the Venetian wall, near the opening of Saint Anthony and next to the Bastion called Pairaktaris (meaning "Bastion Constanta"), there, in earlier years, was a church dedicated to Saint Thekla. It was demolished by the Venetians along with many other temples when they were building the new walls of Nicosia (1567) to counter the Turkish attack. The reverence of the Greek Orthodox Christians of Nicosia to Saint Thekla forced the Venetians to build at the base of the wall, in the place where the Church of Saint Thekla was, a small arch. In the background there is a case with dimensions 0.46 X 0.50 that was used to place the icon. The arch closes with a wooden door that opens only on the day of the celebration of the memory of the Saint (September 23 and 24).

Saint Thekla and the Bubonic Plague of 1630 in the Italian City of Este

The first Cathedral in Milan was originally dedicated to the early Christian martyr Saint Thekla and the beautiful Baroque church of Este, near Venice, is still the most important church in her name to be found in Europe. It was here that in the 1630s citizens prayed to Saint Thekla during a violent outbreak of bubonic plague that killed 50,000 people in Este and the surrounding area. Some years later, in 1758, Este’s priest, Marco Marchetti, commissioned a moving portrait of Saint Thekla from Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a key exponent of Venetian Baroque painting.

The Birthplace of Saint Silouan the Athonite

Simeon Ivanovich Antonov was born on January 17, 1866 in the village of Sovskin in the Tambov province of Russia. There he lived as one of seven children in a rural family, working from a young age in the fields, and receiving little formal schooling - two winter terms at the village primary school - which is why his spiritual child Saint Sophrony referred to him as being "illiterate" or "semi-literate". Despite this, he was still very smart and quick to grasp ideas and information.
At four years of age the word of a peddler - "Where is this God of yours, then?" - had troubled his previously undoubting faith in God. Though his father insisted the peddler was speaking as a fool, it took fifteen years before again he felt wholeheartedly that God exists and is alive. When he was nineteen and a carpenter, a pilgrim was telling the estate workers about Saint John Sezenov, whose tomb she had venerated. Hearing about the Saint's miracles and wonderworking relics made Simeon reflect: "If he was a holy man, then it means that God is here with us, so there is no point in me going off to search for him." This indicates that Simeon all those years was wondering where he could find God. With his new found reassurance, prayer was ignited in him and he began to feel drawn towards monasticism.

September 23, 2020

Homily on the Conception and Birth of Saint John the Baptist (Leontios of Constantinople)

Homily 1
On the Conception and Birth of Saint John 
the Prophet and Forerunner

By Leontios, Presbyter of Constantinople

(Delivered in 557 A.D. in either September or December, 
the day after an earthquake.)
1. "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people" (Lk. 1:68); for today too "dawn has visited us from on high" (Lk. 1:78). We were sleeping in idleness, and he awakened us with his love of human beings; he made the houses shake, in order that he might make us firm by healing our wounds; he whipped what has no soul, in order to chasten what has a soul; he threw the earth into disorder, in order that those in command might be convinced. He shook, he did not destroy; he visited, he did not reveal. "For the one whom the Lord loves, he chastens, and he whips each son whom he accepts" (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6). It was an earthquake that freed Peter from prison; it was an earthquake that freed Paul from fetters; it was an earthquake that Elijah "was lifted up, as it were into heaven" (4 Kings 2:11); it was an earthquake that anticipated the Master's resurrection. Why an earthquake? Where there is a movement of the divinity, there is also an uproar of the elements. Have mercy on your neighbor, and an earthquake will not harm you. Abstain from evil and God will not become angry. You, too, must say diligently in prayer the words of David: "Lord, in your anger do not rebuke me, in your wrath do not chasten me" (Ps. 6:2). Do not overwhelm me as you did the giants, nor have me burnt like the Sodomites, but pity me as you did the Ninevites.

Holy Ethnomartyr Gregory the Kalamaras, Metropolitan of Argos (+ 1821)

St. Gregory Kalamaras of Argos (Feast Day - September 23)

Gregory the Kalamaras was born in 1769 in Alagonia, Kalamata. He served as Metropolitan of Erythra and then Patras (1780 - 1799). Then he was elected Metropolitan of Argos and Nafplio (1810 - 1821), since he was the nephew of his predecessor Gregory (1800 - 1810).
In the year 1819 he was initiated into the Friendly Society (Filiki Etaireia) by Daniel Pampoukis, abbot of the Monastery of Vrachos in Nemea. He himself initiated into the Friendly Society the elites of his province such as Ioannis Iatrou and the Papalexopoulos brothers in Nafplio, Ioannis Peroukas, Stamatis Antonopoulos, the Vlassis brothers in Argos, the priest George Velinis in Platanizos, Theodosios Bouskos in Tzaferaga, George Kakanis in Chonika, his archdeacon Athanasios Soliotis, and the priest Papa-Constantis in Achladokambos.

Conception of Saint John the Baptist: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Conception of the Honorable Prophet, 
Forerunner and Baptist John


 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 St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians 4:22-27


Brethren, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."

September 22, 2020

Homily on the Holy Hieromartyr Phocas, Bishop of Sinope (St John Chrysostom)



Homily on Saint Phocas the Gardener of Sinope (Asterius of Amasea)


Previously Submerged Ancient Church Under Turkish Lake Discovered in 2014 Has Now Resurfaced

Submerged church in 2014

In 2014 a basilica in northwest Turkey, hidden underwater for centuries and believed to be dating back to the 4th or 5th century AD, was discovered after aerial photographs of Lake Iznik, where ancient Nicaea was located, were taken, revealing the submerged ruins of the Roman church, only 20 meters from the banks of the lake.
It is estimated that the church was submerged into the lake during an earthquake in the year 740. Several important artifacts have been found since excavations began in 2015 with the aim to exhibit the ruins of the basilica as part of an underwater museum.

September 21, 2020

Message in a Bottle Destined for a Monastery of the Archangel Micheal on a Greek Island Finds Its Way to Libya


Three young men could not believe their luck when they found a bottle that reached the shores of Libya with two fifty euro bills and a note that they could not read because it was in Greek. 

On Friday 9/11/20, on the shores of the Ras al-Hilal area in eastern Libya, a young Libyan man found a bottle with 100 euros and a handwritten message in Greek that read: "Thank you Panormitis! Always take care of us!"

Book of the Prophet Jonah (Septuagint Translation)


Chapter 1

NOW the word of the Lord came to Jonas the son of Amathi, saying, 2 Rise, and go to Nineve, the great city, and preach in it; for the cry of its wickedness is come up to me. 3 But Jonas rose up to flee to Tharsis from the presence of the Lord. And he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tharsis: and he paid his fare, and went up into it, to sail with them to Tharsis from the presence of the Lord. 4 And the Lord raised up a wind on the sea; and there was a great storm on the sea, and the ship was in danger of being broken. 5 And the sailors were alarmed, and cried every one to his god, and cast out the wares that were in the ship into the sea, that it might be lightened of them. But Jonas was gone down into the hold of the ship, and was asleep, and snored. 6 And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, Why snorest thou? arise, and call upon thy God, that God may save us, and we perish not. 7 And each man said to his neighbour, Come, let us cast lots, and find out for whose sake this mischief is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonas. 8 And they said to him, Tell us what is thine occupation, and whence comest thou, and of what country and what people art thou? 9 And he said to them, I am a servant of the Lord; and I worship the Lord God of heaven, who made the sea, and the dry [land]. 10 Then the men feared exceedingly, and said to him, What is this [that] thou hast done? for the men knew that he was fleeing from the face of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 And they said to him, What shall we do to thee, that the sea may be calm to us? for the sea rose, and lifted its wave exceedingly. 12 And Jonas said to them, Take me up, and cast me into the sea, and the sea shall be calm to you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 13 And the men tried hard to return to the land, and were not able: for the sea rose and grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 And they cried to the Lord, and said, Forbid it, Lord: let us not perish for the sake of this man’s life, and bring not righteous blood upon us: for thou, Lord, hast done as thou wouldest. 15 So they took Jonas, and cast him out into the sea: and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 And the men feared the Lord very greatly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and vowed vows. 

September 19, 2020

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


The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Parakletike

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

The Parakletike is a book of our Church that remains at the analogion of the Chanters in the Holy Temples and is very necessary for the Sacred Services. It is called Parakletike, because most of the hymns it contains have a comforting (parakletiko) character, that is, they bring comfort and joy to Christians. There are hymns and, at the same time, prayers.

The oldest and in fact the original name of this book was the Octaechos or Octoechos, which consisted of hymns written by Saint John of Damascus, a leading dogmatic Father of the 8th century A.D. With these hymns he hymned the mystery of the Divine Economy, that is, of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God, especially the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the Resurrection troparia, doxastika, theotokia, canons.

September 18, 2020

Monk Onouphrios Agiannanitis (1845 - 18 September 1935)

Skete of Saint Anna on the Holy Mountain

 By Monk Moses the Athonite

He came from the hierarchical province of Metron in Eastern Thrace and was the son of a rich shepherd of many sheep. While grazing the sheep, he did not fail to pray. When he was young he decided on his monastic dedication. He left with only one cape, without money and things with him, for Mount Athos. After many adventures he arrived at the Athonite port of salvation in 1888.

He went to the Monastery of Iveron to venerate the Panagia Portaitissa. Someone approached him, and when Onouphrios informed him that he had come to become a monk, he was told to go to Papa-Menas in Mavrovounio at the Skete of Saint Anna. He went, knocked on the door, Papa-Menas came out and welcomed him with joy, telling him that the Panagia had brought him from the City. The young man admired how the Elder knew about him, without having told him anything. Entering the temple to worship he saw the icon of the Virgin "sweaty". He realized that the Elder was praying to the Panagia and she enlightened the man in the Monastery of Iveron to direct him here. As a novice he did extreme obedience. Papa-Menas (+ 1916) soon tonsured him a monk in 1890 and gave him the name of his Elder Onouphrios of Cyprus, who once for his obedience angels carried him by boat from Daphne to the beach of Saint Anna.

September 17, 2020

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

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Horologion

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Last Sunday, in a short Eucharistic sermon, I referred to the liturgical book called the Euchologion. If the Euchologion is a book used by the Clergy of all degrees and helps them in the healing work they do, the Horologion is a book which belongs to the Chanters, Readers, Monks, and all Christians. Thus, while the Euchologion is located in the Holy Altar, the Horologion is located on the analogion of the Chanters. Both of these liturgical books are the most useful books and necessary for the worship of the Church.

The word "horologio" refers to something that tells time, hence the Greek word rologi (
ρολόγι) which means "watch", that tells us the time for both day and night. However, the liturgical book known as the Horologion received its name from the fact that in the beginning it had the Services of the Hours, that is, the services that include psalms, hymns and prayers that are read during the first, third, sixth and ninth hours, according to the Byzantine typikon, that is with the 6th and 9th in the morning, the 12th at noon and the 3rd in the evening. However, this liturgical book, the Horologion, over time included, in addition to the Services of the Hours, other services, which is why it was called the Great Horologion.

Crowds Continue to Flock to a Suburb of Athens to Venerate a "Weeping" Icon of the Virgin Mary

On September 11, 2020 the Metropolis of Kaisariani, Vyronas, and Hymettus issued an official statement on its website about a "weeping" icon of the Most Holy Theotokos which is in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Nea Elvetia of Vyronas, a suburb of Athens:


"With respect towards the actions of our Philanthropic God and Father and the obligation to support our brethren in times when the love for God has grown cold, we inform the pious about the event of the weeping icon of the Theotokos the Parigoritria ('Consolation') kept in the Parish of Saint Demetrios in Nea Elvetia, Vyronas.

September 16, 2020

The Passion of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Prudentius)

The Passion of Cyprian

By Prudentius (348-413)

The Punic land bore Cyprian to give lustre to the whole earth everywhere; that was the home he came from, but he was to be the glory and the teacher of the world. As martyr he belongs to his native country, but by his love and speech he is ours. His blood rests in Africa, but his tongue is potent everywhere; it alone of all his body still survives in life, it alone cannot die, as long as Christ shall suffer the race of men to exist and the world to function. As long as there shall be any book, any collections of sacred writings, every lover of Christ will read thee, Cyprian, and learn thy teachings. The Spirit of God, which formerly flowed into the prophets to inspire them, was sent from heaven and flooded thee with streams of eloquence. What speech is thine! It is purer than snow, and of a new savour! Like an ambrosial liquor which soothes the heart, bathing the palate and penetrating to the seat of the soul, while it sustains the spirit and spreads through the whole frame, it makes us feel God within us entering into our marrows. Show us, O Father, from whence Thou didst give this unexpected blessing to the world.

Iconoclasm and Saint Euphemia According to Theophanes the Chronicler

In the early 9th century historical text known as the Chronicle of Theophanes, under the year 766 A.D., the following is recorded about the iconoclast Emperor Constantine V Copronymos (741-775), who together with his iconoclastic policies also forbade the veneration of relics and prayers to the saints, and this is most notably reflected in his mistreatment of the relics of Saint Euphemia, which miraculously survived an attempt at their destruction and today rest at the Phanar in the Church of Saint George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople:

He who was ruling the Christians by the ineffable decision of God (just as the mad Ahab had ruled Israel) did far worse to the orthodox bishops, monks, laymen, rulers, and subjects under his control than did the madness of the Arabs. He totally renounced the intercession of the holy Virgin and Mother of God and that of all the saints, on the grounds that it gave no aid and was unscriptural. But all aid for us springs from this intercession.

Holy Great Martyr Euphemia: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Holy Great Martyr Euphemia

September 16

 Epistle Reading

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

The reading is from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 6:1-10


Brethren, working together with him, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, "At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation." Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

September 15, 2020

Synaxarion of the Holy Great Martyr Niketas the Goth

St. Niketas the Goth (Feast Day - September 15)


To Niketas.
Niketas is enflamed and becomes a victory-bearer,
Or we should rather say a fire-bearing victory-bearer.
On the fifteenth, Niketas was cast into the furnace.

To the Holy Martyrs who contested with St. Niketas.
A pious multitude contested in Gothia,
Casting the barbarians out of their minds.

He was an offshoot of the illustrious race of the Goths, who were located beyond the Istros River [modern day Danube], during the reign of Constantine the Great [306-337]. He was taught the pious faith as a child from the Bishop of that place named Makarios. Having been raised piously and nobly, he taught those of his own race to also believe, and to conduct themselves pious and virtuously. He also piously believed and lived virtuously, and became a preacher and teacher of the truth to all. Because the impious Athenarichos, the ruler and head of one section of the Gothic race (they were divided into two sections), was defeated with much shame by Phrikigerni, the ruler of the other section of the Goths, with the help and alliance of the divine Cross and the Roman army, as time passed he revived and strengthened once more, and with great madness the defiled one went against the pious Christians. He punished them with barbaric and unbearable punishments. The villain did not do this alone, but he ordered also those under him to imitate his own madness and savageness against the Christians.

Saint Joseph of Alaverdi, One of the Thirteen Holy Syrian Fathers (+ 570)

St. Joseph of Alaverdi (Feast Day - September 15)

Venerable Joseph of Alaverdi was from Antioch and became a disciple and companion of Saint John of Zedazeni, who in the sixth century arrived in Georgia with twelve Syrian ascetics to spread the Christian faith.

With the blessing of his teacher, Joseph settled in the village of Alaverdi in eastern Georgia, then a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. According to tradition, he carried with him a cross formed from the wood of the original Life-giving Cross of our Savior.

September 14, 2020

Homily Two for the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite Fr. George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery, Mount Athos

(Homily Delivered in 1986)

It is true that everything in the Church of Christ and in the life of Christians is sealed by the Cross of the Lord. There is nothing that happens in our Holy Church or in the life of the pious that is not sealed with the Honorable Cross of Christ. The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist is completed with the seal of the Honorable Cross. All the blessings of the priests of the Church are sealed with the Cross. The first mystery of salvation, Holy Baptism, is accomplished through the Honorable Cross. And in our daily lives, from the time we wake up to the time we lie down, and from the time we are born to the time we surrender our souls to God, and when others will surrender our perishable bodies to the grave, again the Cross seals them all.

Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross: Epistle and Gospel Reading

Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-Giving Cross

September 14

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to John 12:28-36


The Lord said, "Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out: and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." He said this to show by what death he was to die. The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?" Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light."

September 13, 2020

Homily for the Sunday Before the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite Fr. George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery, Mount Athos

(Homily Delivered in 1981)

In the apostolic reading the apostle Paul says: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).

There were some Christians then who boasted about various worldly things. Some for their origin, others for their wealth, etc. And they also believed that they had to observe the customs of the Mosaic Law in order to be saved. They said that it is not enough to be a Christian and believe in Christ, and that there is no salvation without observing the formal provisions of the Mosaic Law, such as circumcision. These were the Judaizer Christians. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians against these Judaizer Christians, as we read today.

September 12, 2020

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

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Theotokarion

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is a great feast of the Mother of God which shows the greatness and glory of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. The soul and the body of the Theotokos after her repose ascended to heaven and from there she mediates to her Lord and God.

This year, during the summer written sermons in the Holy Temples, I analyzed various liturgical books that are essential books for every Clergyman, Monastic and Christian, and on the basis of these all the Sacred Services are performed. I considered it good, within this perspective, and in order to sing hymns to the great person of our Panagia, to speak today on this great feast about the book called the Theotokarion.

Monk Joachim the Hesychast and Former Bandit (+ 1889)

Cave of Monk Joachim

By Hieromonk Anthimos Agiannanitis

A famous Kleft and Armatolos during the years of Turkish rule in Crete, a great protector of Christians, and a cause of fear to the Turks.

The following events are characteristic of this man, which show his patriotism, his pure faith, and his guileless character.

Crete was ruled by a terrible pasha who constantly persecuted the Christians and subjected them to horrible tortures. Then John, as was the name of the Kleft and Armatolos, swore to avenge the sufferings of his fellow believers.