November 30, 2020

The Incorrupt Right Foot of the Apostle Andrew in th Cathédral Saint-Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade, the relics of the Apostle Andrew ended up in Italy, in the Cathedral of Amalfi, and in the possession of King Charles of Andjou, who was also Earl of Provence.

Some of the relics of the Apostle Andrew later ended up in Provence and today his right foot, which the Lord washed and wiped Himself, is preserved in the Cathedral of the Savior Christ (Cathédral Saint-Sauveur) in Aix-en-Provence.

On Andrew, the Apostle of Christ (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


By Archimandrite George Kapsanis


The Holy Apostle Andrew was very close to Christ, as was his brother, the Apostle Peter. Because he had a steadfast love for Christ, this love allowed him to be always close to Christ and to be His helper in the work of evangelism.

He had a soul that longed for God. He did not find rest in vanity and on earth. He had a desire for God. And so, when he heard that there was a Prophet in the wilderness of Jordan, John, he left what he had and ran to become his disciple, even though he was old and had obligations.

Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called

November 30

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Matthew 4:18-23


At that time, as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him. And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.

Sermon on the Feast of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called (St. John of Kronstadt)


By St. John of Kronstadt

The Holy Apostle of Christ, Andrew the First-Called, was originally a disciple of Saint John the Baptist who prepared the people to receive the Messiah, When the Savior came out of the wilderness, the Forerunner told the people: "Behold, the Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:36). Immediately Andrew followed after Him. Turning round and seeing him together with John's other disciples, the Lord asked them: "What do ye seek?" They answered: "Master, where dost Thou dwell?" He said to them: "Come and see." The disciples saw where He lived and spent the day there with Him. Soon after this the Lord called Andrew and his brother Peter to follow after Him and told them that they were to become fishers of men unto the salvation of many. From that time forth, they remained with Christ; they were faithful to Him to the end and gave their very lives out of love for Him.

November 29, 2020

Seven Nuggets in the Time of the Coronavirus (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The coronavirus humbled us all, disorganized our society, took us out of our anxious "bliss", our self-sufficiency, our activism and the veneer of our faith. At the same time, it humbled the arrogance of some scientists and politicians.

Each of us, locked in our own monastic cell, thinks, "philosophizes", prays, fills our time creatively and plans. Others suffocate in the small spaces of their residence, contemplating the "before" and "after" of the coronavirus.

November 27, 2020

How Saint James the Persian Became the Patron Saint of the Deaf in Cyprus


Saint James the Persian holds a special place of honor in Cyprus. Not only are there noteworthy churches there named in his honor, some of which date back many centuries, but there is even a village named after him. But Cypriots don't call him by either of the two English translations of his name, which are James or Jacob, nor is he known by his Greek name, which is Iakovos, but in Cyprus alone he is called upon by the faithful as Akouphos.

Being Baptized Into All the Stages of the Life of Christ (St. Gregory of Sinai)


By St. Gregory of Sinai 
Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ's own life, for in baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and learn how to accomplish such progression. 

Venerable Seventeen Martyrs of India

Venerable 17 Martyrs of India (Feast Day - November 27)
These Christian monks are mentioned in The Lives of Saints Barlaam and Joasaph attributed to Saint John of Damascus, and are only commemorated in the Slavic calendar on November 27th. They suffered in the fourth century when King Abenner ruled India. He hated Christians because they were converting his people to Christ, and some of them even became monks. The King issued a decree ordering all Christians to renounce their faith at once, threatening to torture and kill them if they did not comply. He had a special hatred for the monks, and persecuted them without mercy. Some Christians, unable to endure the torments, submitted to the King's decree, but the monks rebuked him for his wickedness. Some of them fled into the deserts and mountains, while others chose martyrdom.

November 26, 2020

"The Life of Desert-Dwellers is a Blessed One, For By Divine Eros They Are Raised Up"

In the Anavathmoi for Matins in Plagal of the First Tone we chant: 
"The life of desert-dwellers is a blessed one, 
for by divine eros they are raised up." 
"Τοις ερημικοίς ζωή μακαρία εστι, 
θεϊκώ έρωτι πτερουμένοις."
Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite explains this verse as follows:

November 25, 2020

Holy Great Martyr Katherine of Alexandria: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Holy Great Martyr Katherine of Alexandria

November 25

Matins Gospel Reading

Gospel According to Matthew 25:1-13


The Lord said this parable, "The kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man will come."

November 24, 2020

Holy Martyr Mercurius of Smolensk (+ 1239)

St. Mercurius of Smolensk (Feast Day - November 24)

The Holy Martyr Mercurius of Smolensk was a Slav by birth, probably from Moravia, the descendant of a princely line. Brought up in Orthodoxy, Saint Mercurius in zeal for the true faith left his own native land for Russia, where he served in the army of the Prince of Smolensk. The saintly soldier secretly led an ascetic life. He was strict in fasting, he was chaste, spending his nights at prayer, and spiritually preparing himself to suffer for Christ. In the year 1239 a horde of Tatars [Mongols] under Khan Batu, already having laid waste to many Russian cities, appeared in the vicinity of Smolensk and set up camp 25 versts away at Dolgomost, threatening to destroy the city and its holy churches and places.

Saint Simon of Soiga (+ 1562)

St. Simon of Soiga (Feast Day - November 24)

Venerable Simon of Soiga belonged to the Komel disciples of Saint Sergius of Radonezh. He was born in Solvychegodsk in the family of Nikita Tentyukov. From a young age, the grace of God rested on him. He shied away from the bustle of the world. In his younger years, he left his parents' house and was tonsured at the Komel Monastery under Saint Cornelius (May 19). He passed through his obediences with such ascetics and disciples of Cornelius of Komel as Gennadius of Liubimsk (Jan. 23), Cyril of New Lake (Feb. 4), Herodion of Iloezersk (Sep. 28), Adrian of Poshekhonsk (Mar. 5), Laurence of Komel (May 16).

November 23, 2020

A Fascinating Interview from an Empirical Perspective Regarding Holy Relics with Saint Iakovos Tsalikes

St. Iakovos processing with the skull of Venerable David

The following interview with Saint Iakovos Tsalikes is an excerpt from a recorded interview on the radio station of the Church of Greece conducted by Protopresbyter Fr. Constantine Stratigopoulos.

Fr. Iakovos: One day they will be resurrected, my Fr. Constantine, according to the will and command of God, as our Christ also told us: "and everyone will be resurrected." And those bare bones that gush forth healings, within which sacred relics lived or lives an immortal soul, no matter how much they rot in the soil and in the earth, one day these relics and these bones will come to life, Fr. Constantine, and they will be resurrected and presented again to the Master Christ as, forgive me, we were at first but also with the body, and these relics will come to life.

November 22, 2020

9th Sunday of Luke: ‘A Fierce Condemnation of Greed’


By Protopresbyter Nikolaos Patsalos

On the Ninth Sunday of Saint Luke the Gospel reading (Luke 12:16-21) again revolves around the great temptation of the misuse of wealth. The Parable of the Foolish Rich Man is well-known and, at the same time, of enduring interest to everyone, not only to those who have a lot of money.

The man mentioned in the Gospel today was so rich that he didn’t have room to store all his wealth and goods. It appears that his sole interest in life was to acquire more and more goods. He was the type of man who, instead of being in love with the beauty of life, was someone with a life-long passion for an abundance of material goods. The poor man was under the illusion that, by hoarding wealth, he was storing up happiness.

The Foolish Rich Man


By Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopolis
1. I mentioned to you on another occasion, my Christian friends, that our Church, like the caring mother it is, uses this period of winter - when living conditions have always been difficult - to present us with Sunday Gospel readings that sharpen our awareness of our brothers and sisters who are suffering. So, last Sunday we heard about the Good Samaritan and today about the Foolish Rich Man, which is a parable similar in content to the former.

2. Listen. The rich man in the parable didn’t become rich from the goods he acquired that year; he was already rich from previous years. So he had no worries about how he was going to get through the next year. He could easily have said: ‘I’ll give the whole of this year’s harvest as charity for the poor’. But he didn’t. And we don’t hear him thanking God either, for the blessing He gave with the rich yield from his fields. Farming depends mostly on God, since it it He Who’s responsible if the weather conditions guarantee a rich harvest. Yet, when the foolish rich man saw the bounty, we see and hear him thinking only about himself, and with great concern and anxiety. The hour is midnight: a time when the poor would be sleeping, exhausted from laboring throughout the day to earn their bread. The rich man, however, isn’t sleeping, even though he has everything and, with this exceptional harvest, has just acquired a great deal more. The rich man says something that really only very poor people and widows should be saying: ‘What am I going to do?’ His problem is that his granaries are too small to store that year’s rich harvest! As Saint Basil says: ‘The stomachs of the poor would have been other granaries in which to store this wealth of food’. ‘What am I going to do? asks the tormented and pitiable rich man in the parable. A very young school-child could have told him perfectly easily what he should do, but the rich man couldn’t see it. The child would have said: ‘Do some division’. If we know the price of many things and we want to know the price of one, we divide. This is the amount of your goods, this is how many poor people there are in the area, divide the first by the second and the solve the problem that’s confusing and worrying you and has you asking ‘What am I going to do?' Since I’ve mentioned Saint Basil, my friends, let me give you a wonderful excerpt from one of his homilies concerning today’s Gospel reading: ‘The more we use the water from a spring, the better it is for the spring and the water itself. Just as water becomes stagnant and polluted if we don’t use it, so unused wealth becomes unproductive and useless’.

November 21, 2020

Homily on the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple (St. Philaret of Moscow)


By St. Philaret of Moscow
Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thine own people and thy father’s house. And the King shall greatly desire thy beauty,1for He Himself is thy Lord, and thou shalt worship Him. (Ps. 44: 9-10)
God is wondrous in His ways, for in order to make blessed the being that comes from Him with a most exalted and incomprehensible blessedness, He from the ages deigned to unite His own nature with the nature of man, in the Person of His Only-Begotten Son—thus through Him to extend this union also to the fullness of the Church, which, according to the law of incarnation, is His body, and in this manner dissolving and as if mutually leveling all divinity with all lowly things, That in the dispensation of the fullness of times (Eph. 1:10), as the apostle says, When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). This great resolution of the eternal counsel, or, according to the Apostle, this mystery, although it hath been hid from ages and from generations, is now made manifest also to his saints (Col. 1:26); and the Holy Spirit nevertheless revealed even this very revelation, which bears seven seals, to His mystics, and through them to all humankind to the extent of its gradually growing understanding obligating it to match up to and facilitate its fulfillment. Thus did one of the Prophets, who saw mankind in the past days of its infancy and under the guardianship of the law growing to the fullness of its years, when it was obligated to become capable of its task of being betrothed to Divinity and giving birth to a timeless Child, portrays the Son of God as the King approaching the wedding. And taking upon himself the role of the bringer of the bride, or friend of the bridegroom, the Prophet as if impatiently convinces human nature not to further postpone this blessed union by betrayal and insubordination, but to commit itself to it through sincerity and faithfulness. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear; and forget thine own people and thy father’s house. And the King shall greatly desire thy beauty.

The Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos Into the Temple and Sacred Nepsis (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

Delivered in 1988 in the dining room of Gregoriou Monastery on the Holy Mountain.

Saint Gregory Palamas, who is among other things also a theologian of the Mother of God, in his famous Discourse on the Entrance of the Theotokos, states that our Panagia entered the Holy of Holies, was the first in the world to inaugurate the path of wakefulness (nepsis), the ascension of the mind to God and the union of the human mind with God, namely the hesychastic way of the deification of man. Thus, for those who desire the secret and hesychastic ascent to God and the secret vision and knowledge of God, our Panagia is the model and the way. She is not only a way and a model for those who live in the world, with virginity and modest marriage, for mothers, but she is also a model for the sacred hesychasts.

The Entrance of the Theotokos as a Time of Preparation (Archimandrite Placide Deseille)

By Archimandrite Placide Deseille
This feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos, which is so close to the beginning of the Christmas forty-day fast, is a wonderful introduction to this period as we prepare to honor the Nativity of the Lord and celebrate it as a new incarnation of Christ in the manger of our hearts. For this will be precisely the grace of Christmas: that Christ may always be born more and more within us, that He always transform us more and more in Him in the depths of our hearts, so that this presence radiates to all of our being and in our whole life.

The Virgin Mary was so wonderfully prepared by God for her role as the Mother of God. Even as a child, she entered the Temple, she who would be the true Ark of the Covenant, the true place of the presence of God among men; she entered the Temple which was made by man, but foreshadowed, announced the final abode of God among men, which was not made by man, which would mark the time of the Gospel and the time in which we live.

November 20, 2020

The Sad Story Behind a Famous Photo of Saint Nektarios

The body of St. Nektarios outside the locked doors of Holy Trinity Church in Piraeus.

In Piraeus, attached to the Church of the Holy Trinity, there is a Chapel of Saint Nektarios which, apart from being a place of worship, also has historical significance for the life of Saint Nektarios. When referring to the Holy Trinity Church at the time of Saint Nektarios, we mean the original church that was destroyed by the bombings of 1940. In this old church where today is the Chapel of Saint Nektarios, there was a small warehouse where they put the used candles and any useless object that they would soon throw away or give to a junk dealer.

When Saint Nektarios passed away on November 8, 1920 at the Aretaio Hospital in Athens, the nuns who cared for him during his hospitalization prepared the relic of the Saint to transport him for burial at the Monastery of the Saint, in Aegina. In 1920, coastal shipping to the islands of the Saronic Gulf was not as it is today. They were done in large boats, on a journey that lasted a long time, with sparse itineraries and that many times the rough seas made it difficult and tedious. This means that the nuns had to leave the relic of the Saint in a place near the port so that the next day it could be transferred to Aegina for burial.

November 19, 2020

The Soviet Exhumation and Autopsy of the Relics of Saint Philaret of Moscow in 1939

Why the Relics of the Saint Were Disturbed

In 1939, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow was exhumed on the territory of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra

Red Corner on the Grave

On the territory of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra in Soviet times, several autopsies were carried out on the burials of famous historical figures. One of the most dramatic is the opening of the grave of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow.

The Saint, who died on November 19, 1867, was buried on the tenth day after his death in a chapel specially built near the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the feast of Saint Philaret the Merciful. The construction of the side-altar, begun during the life of the Metropolitan, in the place designated by the Metropolitan himself, was completed after his death - on June 30, 1868.

November 18, 2020

Trailer to New Mount Athos Documentary in Production


The mind-blowing idea of a Mount Athos documentary by Andrei Oprescu revolves around filming the nearby scenic beauty and the lifestyle of the monks. Andrei visited this holy mountain for the first time at the age of 18, the spectacular views of the place and spiritual vibes in the air grabbed his attention and he decided to make a Mount Athos film. That was the day when Andrei decided to enhance his filming skills.

The Funeral of a Dead Church

By Abbot Parthenios,
Monastery of Saint Paul, Mount Athos

A zealous pastor took over a new parish. But every Sunday and feast, his church remained almost empty. Despite all the recommendations and motivations he gave his parishioners, he failed to get them to attend church.

Saddened by this situation, the following trick was devised: He announced to the whole parish that the funeral of the church would take place next Sunday.

"My Soul Follows Close Behind You; Your Right Hand Upholds Me"


Psalm 62 (63)

1 A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
2 O GOD, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.

A Personal Story Archbishop Anastasios of Albania Once Told University Students in an Amphitheater


There was once a woman who became pregnant at an advanced age.  
Her doctors told her to terminate the pregnancy because the baby would be late. 
She did not listen to them and prayed.  
The miracle happened.  
You have the late child in front of you ...  
It is ... 
Anastasios Giannoulatos  
University Professor 
Archbishop of Albania!

November 17, 2020

The Skull of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker


The sacred skull of Saint Gregory the Wonderworker is currently located in the Museum São Roque in Lisbon, Portugal and is considered its most important relic.

A “document of authentication” written in Castillian and signed by the Empress Maria, Mother of Rudolf II of Prague, was included with this important relic, when it was dispatched from the Escorial in 1587 together with all the relics donated by D. Juan de Borja (1533-1606).  This document is a rich parchment illuminated and provided with the royal seal. It declares that Maria decided at the request of Juan de Borja to offer him the sacred skull of Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea, in reward for his important services during her stay in Prague. The document is conserved at the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa Historical Archives.

On Saint Gregory the Wonderworker (St. Basil the Great)


By St. Basil the Great

(On the Holy Spirit, Ch. 29)

But where shall I rank the great Gregory, and the words uttered by him? Shall we not place among Apostles and Prophets a man who walked by the same Spirit as they; who never through all his days diverged from the footprints of the saints; who maintained, as long as he lived, the exact principles of evangelical citizenship? I am sure that we shall do the truth a wrong if we refuse to number that soul with the people of God, shining as it did like a beacon in the Church of God; for by the fellow-working of the Spirit the power which he had over demons was tremendous, and so gifted was he with the grace of the word "for obedience to the faith among...the nations" (Rom. 1:5), that, although only seventeen Christians were handed over to him, he brought the whole people alike in town and country to the knowledge of God. He too by Christ's mighty name commanded even rivers to change their course, and caused a lake, which afforded a ground of quarrel to some covetous brethren, to dry up. Moreover his predictions of things to come were such as in no wise to fall short of those of the great prophets. To recount all his wonderful works in detail would be too long a task. By the superabundance of gifts, wrought in him by the Spirit in all power and in signs and in marvels, he was styled a second Moses by the very enemies of the Church. Thus in all that he through grace accomplished, alike by word and deed, a light seemed ever to be shining, a token of the heavenly power from the unseen which followed him. To this day he is a great object of admiration to the people of his own neighborhood, and his memory, established in the churches ever fresh and green, is not dulled by length of time. Thus not a practice, not a word, not a mystic rite has been added to the Church besides what he bequeathed to it. Hence truly on account of the antiquity of their institution many of their ceremonies appear to be defective. For his successors in the administration of the Churches could not endure to accept any subsequent discovery in addition to what had had his sanction. Now one of the institutions of Gregory is the very form of the doxology to which objection is now made, preserved by the Church on the authority of his tradition; a statement which may be verified without much trouble by any one who likes to make a short journey. 

A Metaphrase of Ecclesiastes (St. Gregory of Neocaesarea)


"A Metaphrase of Ecclesiastes" is a condensed retelling of the Book of Ecclesiastes, based on the translation of the seventy (Septuagint). The reason for its writing, apparently, was the spread of epicurean-hedonistic views in society in the second half of the third century. The commentaries on the Book of Ecclesiastes by St. Hippolytus of Rome and St. Dionysios of Alexandria date back to this time. Most of the Greek manuscripts attribute this work to St. Gregory the Theologian, but already Rufinus of Aquileia asserted that St. Gregory the Wonderworker of Neocaesarea wrote a splendid transcription of Ecclesiastes.

November 16, 2020

Churches in Albania: 150 Built from Scratch, 70 Restored and 160 Preserved


By Fr. Elias Makos

From the moment that the Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios, took over the responsibility of the Orthodox Church of Albania, until today, for about three decades, 150 new churches have been erected, 70 churches-monuments have been restored, while 160 have been repaired.

Moreover, more than 70 large buildings were erected or purchased and reconstructed, to house metropolis buildings, schools, nurseries, hostels, laboratories, clinics, youth centers, etc.

The whole construction project amounts to 450 buildings.

Married Couple Dedicate Their Lives to God as Monastics


A married couple has mutually decided to dedicate their lives completely to God and received tonsuring together before separating to their respective monasteries. The newly-tonsured monk is named Galaktion and the newly-tonsured nun is named Episteme. This took place on November 5th, which was the feast of the Holy Martyrs Galaktion and Episteme of Emesa, who are known from their biographies to have been married but mutually separated from one another to live in monasteries in the area of Mount Sinai.

"We Are Drowning in the Tears of the Saints": Many Icons of the Russian Village of Elatslozovka (428km from Moscow) Are Reported to be Weeping

Tearful Armenians Bid Farewell to Dadivank Monastery Before Leaving Region

Armenians in the disputed Kalbajar district, Nagorno-Karabakh, bid farewell to the ninth century Dadivank Monastery on November 13 as the area is being returned to Azerbaijan under a Russia-brokered deal.
As a result of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 which resulted in a cease-fire agreement stipulating an Armenian withdrawal from Dadivank and a hand-over of the surrounding area to Azerbaijan, the Abbot of the Dadivank Monastery decided to bring the monastery's Christian art of significance, including bells and khachkars, to Armenia. After the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the region, the monastery was placed under the protection of the Russian peacekeeping forces.

Thoughts on the Beginning of the Forty Day Fast of Christmas


Beloved brethren, "Christ is in our midst", present and active.

We have already arrived at the Holy Forty Days, that is, the period of the Christmas fast, our preparation for the celebration of the great event of the divine incarnation. Every year we had the opportunity during these days through services, gatherings, various social and charitable actions to help our souls prepare spiritually for the acceptance of the Lord in our hearts.

This year the external conditions are very different. The black clouds of the pandemic can be seen in the horizon. Once again we are prevented from participating freely in ecclesiastical life and worship, more restrictive measures are constantly being taken, we are mercilessly bombarded by menacing and terrifying news, and our experience of Easter and Great Lent will visibly be repeated for Christmas causing fear and concern in our hearts.

A Reflection on the Christmas Fast of 2020


 Tomorrow starts
the Christmas fast....
But now you will tell me
"But my Father since this year
they will not let us attend liturgy
for Christmas
the way things are going... what meaning does it have?
Do we not fast to Commune???
What kind of fasting will this be???"
I honestly have no answer
to this problem....
All I know is that
Fasting is a virtue
(I prefer it to "command"),
it is the fragrant flower of Grace
whose root reaches
back to the Garden of Paradise
(think, it was the first command
given by God to man)....
Fasting of course
does not have to do
only with abstaining from some food
otherwise we would be talking about a diet
(or vegan diet),
it does not have to do
only with physical effort
otherwise we would be talking about exercise
(in the sporting sense),
it does not have to do
with denial, hatred
for matter, desires,
otherwise we would talk about all this differently
(the falsehoods taught by the Oriental religions....)
Fasting hides within
two precious roses
freedom of choice and
the dynamics of self-sacrifice....
It has a transitional,
a Transfigurational (in the Theological sense)
perspective of the body and soul....
But like all virtues so is it
not an end in itself
but the medium
to "thin out" of our existence the passions,
to be freer to "run" close to Christ....
Of course there are people near to us
for whom fasting is their disease....
To them only "respect"
and "no comments"....
So fast if you can
but do not judge him
who fails,
please do not let it dry up
along with the fat of your body
the mercy and the compassion of your heart as well....
If you cannot fast
at the same time do not take advantage of it,
do not launch your own theologies
("If you help someone
you do not need to fast"),
it's not cool,
it's a weakness....
Fasting is not just about
the contents of our stomach
but mainly the content of our heart,
and I think about it every time
the thought comes to me
when it's 10 minutes till 12:
"Come eat, you still have time ..."
or when it's 10 minutes past 12:
"Come on, the day has changed now,
you can eat...."
That is why we need His help
(in this fight as well)....
The ones we read about in the saying of the elders
with the people of God
who ate little and prayed a lot
they are not fiction,
they were like you, like me,
they were people with passions, mistakes and weaknesses
but at the same time
with an insatiable hunger,
with an unquenchable thirst
for the love it offers richly
the presence of God in their lives....
They tasted this Love
and they testify to us that with Her
man (his existence)
alone is satisfied, feels full....
given the situation we are experiencing,
I hope it does not count
from our God
as a shame
that we are fasting from Christ (Holy Communion)
which has been imposed on the faithful....
May we have a blessed Lent!
May God scatter His
Grace and
on the cobbled streets of our soul and life!!!


Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.  

November 15, 2020

The Christmas Fast


By Metropolitan Symeon of New Smyrna

1. The second longest period of fasting after Great Lent is the Christmas fast, known in the language of our Orthodox people as the Forty-day fast. It also includes forty days, but it does not have the strictness of the fasting of Great Lent. It starts on November 15th and ends on December 24th.

2. The feast of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ is the second great Despotic feast of the Christian festal calendar. Until the middle of the fourth century, the Church of the East celebrated the birth and baptism of Christ under the name Epiphany on the same day, January 6th. Christmas as a separate feast, celebrated on December 25, was introduced to the East by the West around the end of the fourth century.

The Staff of Saint Paisius Velichkovsky


On November 15, 1994, for the 200th anniversary of the repose of St. Paisius Velichkovsky, the staff of the Saint was presented as a gift to the Holy Ascension Novo-Nyametsky Monastery in Transnistria, Moldavia by the Bishop of Donetsk Alipy.

The Church as a Therapeutic Center

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The subject of the therapy of the soul is extremely important for the Orthodox Church because it expresses the essence of spiritual life. Before elaborating on this crucial topic, I would like to give some introductory explanations.

First, when discussing the therapy of the soul, we do not believe in dualism, which makes a clear distinction between soul and body, as is the case in ancient Greek philosophy or some present Eastern religions. Man has two hypostases,1 since he consists of soul and body. The soul is not the whole man but just the soul of man; the body is not the whole man but just the body of man. The body is tightly connected to the soul and takes part in all its states. The body receives both the fall of the soul as well as its resurrection. Thus we speak about the death of the body, which is an outcome of the death of the soul, and about the deification of the body, which comes as a result of the deification of the soul. Saint Gregory Palamas teaches that the nous2 is man’s first physical intelligent organ and also teaches that the Grace of God is ferried through the soul to the body, which is attached to the soul.

Homily on the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Origen)


That Christians Ought to Imitate the Good Samaritan (St. John Chrysostom)


By St. John Chrysostom
(Against the Judaizers, Homily 8.3,4)
Imitate the Samaritan in the gospel who showed such concern for the man who had been wounded. For a Levite passed that way, a Pharisee passed by, but neither of them turned to the man lying there. They just went their way and, like the cruel, pitiless men they were, they left him there. But a Samaritan, who was in no way related to this man, did not hurry past but stopped, took pity on him, poured oil and wine on his wounds, put him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn. There he gave some money to the innkeeper and promised him more for taking care of a man who was in no way related to him.
He did not say to himself: 'What do I care about him? I am a Samaritan. I have nothing in common with him. We are far from the city and he cannot even walk. What about this? Suppose he is not strong enough to make the long journey. Am I going to bring in a corpse, will I be arrested for murder, will I be held accountable for his death?' Many a time people go along a road and see men who have been wounded but are still breathing. But they pass them by not because they are stingy with their money, but because they are afraid that they themselves may be dragged into court and held accountable for the murder.
That gentle and benevolent Samaritan feared none of these things. He scorned all such fears, put the man on his own beast, and brought him to an inn. He did not think of any of these things - neither the danger, nor the expense, nor anything else. If the Samaritan was so kind and gentle to a stranger, what excuse would we have for neglecting our brothers when they are in deeper trouble? For those who have just observed the fast* have fallen among robbers, the Jews. And the Jews are more savage than any highwaymen; they do greater harm to those who have fallen among them. They did not strip off their victim's clothes nor inflict wounds on his body as did those robbers on the road to Jericho. The Jews have mortally hurt their victim's soul, inflicted on it ten thousand wounds, and left it lying in the pit of ungodliness.
Let us not overlook such a tragedy as that. Let us not hurry past so pitiable a sight without taking pity. Even if others do so, you must not. Do not say to yourself: 'I am no priest or monk; I have a wife and children. This is a work for the priests; this is work for the monks.' The Samaritan did not say: 'Where are the priests now? Where are the Pharisees now? Where are the teachers of the Jews?' But the Samaritan is like a man who found some great store of booty and got the profit.
Therefore, when you see someone in need of treatment for some ailment of the body or soul, do not say to yourself: 'Why did so-and-so or so-and-so not take care of him?' You free him from his sickness; do not demand an accounting from others for their negligence. Tell me this. If you find a gold coin lying on the ground, do you say to yourself: 'Why didn't so-and-so pick it up?' Do you not rush to snatch it up before somebody else does?
Think the same way about your fallen brothers; consider that tending his wounds is like finding a treasure. If you pour the word of instruction on his wounds like oil, if you bind them up with your mildness, and cure them with your patience, your wounded brother has made you a richer man that any treasure could. Jeremiah said: 'He who has brought forth the precious from the vile will be as my mouth.' What could we compare to that? No fasting, no sleeping on the ground, no watching and praying all night, nor anything else can do as much for you as saving your brother can accomplish.
* In this homily Chrysostom criticizes those Christians in Antioch who observed the fast of the Jews after the Jews encouraged them to keep the fast in exchange for physical and spiritual healing. For this reason, Chrysostom compares the man who had fallen among thieves on the road as those Christians who have kept the fast of the Jews, and encourages the faithful Christians to show concern for their fallen brethren that kept this fast and to treat their spiritual wounds by which the Jewish practice wounded them. This can further be applied to any Christian who has fallen away from being a faithful member of the Church, and that their fellow faithful Christians ought to show concern for them.


November 14, 2020

An Interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos on the Relevance of Saint Gregory Palamas Today


Question: In your book Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite you write that Saint Gregory is a saint who can help modern man a lot. What could we, who live in a world very different from the world of the fourteenth century, learn from St. Gregory?

Answer: Beyond what you say, in my book I write that our time is parallel to the time in which Saint Gregory Palamas lived, that is, there are the same movements and the same traditions. That is, in the 14th century in the Roman Empire, the so-called Byzantium, there was a living Orthodox Tradition, expressed by St. Gregory, but at the same time there were many humanistic elements, which means that humanists relied heavily on the human factor. Thus, there were Christians who lived a mystical and ascetic life, but at the same time there were Christians who were influenced by other traditions and in fact were humanists, that is, they relied on the human factor.

Holy New Hieromartyr Dimitri (Benevolensky) of Tver (+ 1937)

St. Dimitri Benevolensky (Feast Day - November 14)
Dimitri Mikhailovich Benevolensky was born on October 10, 1883 in Vishny Volochyok, Tver province to a family of a clergyman. He studied first at Tver, and then at the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1909, after which he took the position of a teacher at the Nikolo-Stolpensky Monastery in the Tver province.

In 1911, a priest died in the village of Ostrovno and the parish was left without a pastor. Dimitri Mikhailovich was asked to be ordained a priest. In the same year, he married the daughter of Ivan Alekseevich Tikhomandritsky, Anna, who was sixteen years old. Her father was a railway engineer and was involved in the construction of the Volga railway. The family was pious, one of the sons, Michael, became a priest, and the other two daughters did not marry and devoted their lives to raising adopted children and children of relatives.

November 13, 2020

The 47 Accusations Against St. John Chrysostom That Led to his Deposition and Exile


The proceedings of the infamous Synod of the Oak, that was unlawfully summoned against Saint John Chrysostom in June of 403, contained forty-seven accusations against him, and were summarized by Saint Photios the Great as contained in his Bibliotheca (59). The presidents were Theophilos, Bishop of Alexandria, Akakios of Beroea, Antiochus of Ptolemais, Severian of Gabala, and Cyrinus of Chalcedon, who were bitterly hostile to Chrysostom, and constituted themselves judges, accusers, and witnesses. There were thirteen sessions: twelve against Chrysostom, the thirteenth against Heraclides, whom Chrysostom had ordained Bishop of Ephesus.

Bishop in Georgia Sprinkles with Holy Water the Wards of Patients with Covid- 19

Metropolitan Nikoloz (Pachuashvili) of Akhalkalaki, Kumurdo and Kari sprinkles with Holy Water a ward of patients with Covid-19 at Tbilisi Hospital in Georgia.  

November 12, 2020

Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Nasaud in Romania: Athanasius Todoran, Basil Dumitru, Gregory Manu and Basil Oichi (+ 1763)

Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Nasaud (Feast Day - November 12)

Holy Martyr Athanasius Todoran was born in Bichigiu village of the Sălăuţa valley in the Năsăud region of Transylvania, to a family of devout Orthodox Christians. Few things are known about his childhood; it is only known that he was an outstanding person in his community, an educated person, who had been administrator and tax collector in Bichigiu and Sălăuţa valley.
As a virtuous and courageous man, he was a member of a military regiment of the empire from Vienna ever since his youth. Hence, as his retirement was postponed, he left the army of his masters, who were Catholics, and went back home. Followed by the people of the empire, he took refuge in the Ţibleş Mountains, in the land of Maramureş and Chioaru. While in this exile, he always prayed to God for himself and for his fellow people who were suffering all kinds of humiliations.

On the Dangerous Vice of Pride (St. Varnava Nastic)


“In this article, one can sense ... the humble spirit and modesty that adorned the ancient spiritual giants of old Egypt, Sinai and the Holy Mountain. As if the author were outside of time and space. Not a single temptation of the twentieth century touched him and failed to separate him from the holy people of the early Christian centuries,"- this is how St. Nikolai Velimirovich reacted to the article "Something About Pride", written by the then student of the Theological Faculty in Belgrade, Vojislav Nastic, who today the Serbian Orthodox Church honors as Saint Varnava, Bishop of Khvostansky, commemorated on the 12th of November. Below is a translation of the article on Pride he wrote as a student of theology:

November 11, 2020

The Miracles of the Great Martyr Menas


By Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria

After the death of the impious Roman pagan emperors Diocletian and Maximian, who hated Christ, the pious Emperor Constantine came to the throne, and the faith which is in our Lord Jesus Christ spread throughout every land. At that time, certain men, citizens of Alexandria and lovers of Christ, found the place where the holy relics of the holy and glorious martyr of Christ, Menas were laid and built a church dedicated to him.

1. It happened that a merchant from the land of Isauria came to Alexandria to purchase wares. Hearing of the numerous miracles and healings which took place at the church of Saint Menas, he said to himself, "I will go to church, that through the prayers of His holy sufferer, God may have mercy on me." So the man took a bag full of gold and left for the church. Reaching Lake Mareotis, which lies near the sea, he crossed on a ferryboat to Loxonetus where he looked about for a place to sleep that night.  He entered one of the houses there and said to the master, "Friend, be so kind as to accept me as a guest in your house tonight, for the sun has already set. I am afraid to continue alone."

Five Sermons on the Feast of Saint Vincent (St. Augustine of Hippo)


November 10, 2020

Holy Hieromartyr Milos the Bishop from Persia in the "Ecclesiastical History" of Sozoman

Saint Milos and his two disciples are commemorated together in the Orthodox Church on November 10th. In the Synaxarion of Constantinople, Sozomen (Eccl. Hist. 2:14) and in their Acts, there are both differences and similarities than what is recorded about them in the Paradise of the Fathers. Though his name is usually recorded as Milos, he is also known as Milesios or Milles. He was also a Bishop in Persia who sought to spread the Christian faith, and suffered for it. The martyrdom accounts, however, are very similar despite differences, confirming that they are not different people, but these are accounts with different yet similar traditions. Below is the passage about him from Sozomen (Eccl. Hist. 2:14):

Holy Martyr Constantine-Khaki, King of Georgia (+ 852)

St. Constantine-Khaki of Georgia (Feast Day - November 10)

The ninth century was one of the most difficult periods in Georgian history. The Arab Muslims wreaked havoc throughout the region of Kartli, forcibly converting many to Islam with fire and the sword. Many of the destitute and frightened were tempted to betray the Faith of their fathers.

At that time the valorous aristocrat and faithful Christian, Prince Constantine, was living in Kartli. Born in 768, he was the descendant of Kakhetian princes, hence his title “Kakhi.”

As is meet for a Christian believer, Constantine considered himself the greatest of sinners and often said, “There can be no forgiveness of my sins, except through the spilling of my blood for the sake of Him Who shed His innocent blood for us!”

November 9, 2020

Saint Symeon the Metaphrastes as a Model for our Lives


By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Symeon, the so-called Metaphrastes (the Translator), came from Constantinople and lived in the 9th century AD, in the years of the pious Emperor Leo the Wise, of whom he was considered an associate, as well as being beloved by him, because of his wisdom and especially because of his virtue. At that time the Arabs went to Crete and plundered the property of the people, so the emperor sent him there together with the Admiral Hemerius, with the order to subdue the Arabs, either peacefully or through armies of war. Symeon met with the leaders of the Arabs, and he sweetened them so much with the wisdom of his words, that without war he defeated them and persuaded them to pay tribute to the emperor. Before leaving, however, for Crete, he asked the emperor to promise him that, if he returned victorious from there, he would do him the favor he would ask, and the emperor indeed promised him. Thus, when he returned victorious, the emperor asked him what favor he wanted, and the Saint asked him to allow him to leave the palace, because he wanted to become a monk. The emperor was upset because he did not want to lose such an associate, but he also did not want to break his promise. So he bid farewell to him with tears, asking him to pray for him too.