Sunday, September 19, 2021

Homily for the Sunday After the Elevation of the Honorable Cross (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

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

(Delivered in the Refectory in 1985)

We have heard the word of the Lord again today, my brethren, in the Holy Gospel: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mk. 8:34). This is the Sunday after the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. The day before yesterday we had the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. And that is why the Church today is talking about the Cross again. The Cross of the Lord, which must become our cross. For if we do not lift up our cross, if we do not partake of the Cross of Christ, what kind of Christians are we? Because a Christian is one who imitates Christ, hence they are a Christian. And he imitates Christ throughout his life, even His crucifixion. And he is crucified with Christ in order to be with Him and to walk "in the newness of life" (Rom. 6:4), as the divine Apostle Paul says.

Galatians 2:20 in Light of the Fathers of the "Philokalia"


"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

- Paul the Apostle 
(Galatians 2:20)

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74. He who yokes the practice of the virtues to spiritual knowledge is a skillful farmer, watering the fields of his soul from two pure springs. For the spring of spiritual knowledge raises the immature soul to the contemplation of higher realities; while the spring of ascetic practice mortifies our earthly members: ‘unchastity, uncleanness, passion, evil desire’ (Col. 3:5). Once these are dead, the virtues come into flower and bear the fruits of the Spirit: ‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23). And then this prudent farmer, having ‘crucified the flesh together with the passions and desires’ (Gal. 5:24), will say together with St Paul: ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live ... I live through faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20). 

- Theodoros the Great Ascetic 
(A Century of Spiritual Texts)

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Fourth Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

   Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Fourth Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Last Sunday, beloved brethren, we saw how the Third Ecumenical Synod dealt with the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, how it condemned him and how it set terms for the faith in the God-man Christ and the Most Holy Theotokos, after an agreement between Saint Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch with the so-called "Ekthesis of Reconciliation" in 433.

However, after the death of these two Patriarchs (Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch) their fanatical disciples raised the issue, in consideration of the fact that both of them had departed from their positions, which they had already supported, and it now created problems in the Church.

These are Eutyches, Dioscorus and other Antiochian theologians. Eutyches taught that the Lord Jesus Christ had two natures before the union, but he confessed one nature after the union. That is, he said that after the union of the two natures, human nature was absorbed by the divine nature. This problem continued, because there was still confusion between nature and person, so that they considered the one person is connected with one nature.

"Orthodox Popes" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

According to the decisions of the First Vatican Council, the Pope is defined as "infallible" when he speaks "ex cathedra", he is then superior to Councils and in fact the Ecumenical Councils, since he decides whether or not the Council decides correctly.

Against this mentality which created many afflictions in Western Christianity, the Reformed Protestants appeared, who not only questioned the infallibility of the Pope, but ended up at the point where everyone is a pope, who can judge everyone else.

Unfortunately, this mentality was also introduced into the Orthodox Church by clergy and theologians, and is expressed as an "Orthodox Papism", when every theologian expresses a papal mentality, when they come to the point of denying the synodal institution of the Church.

14 Attributes of True Faith (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

By St. Nektarios of Aegina

True faith has the following attributes:

1) It informs the believer secretly of the truth of his faith.

2) It directs his steps in the path of truth.

3) It fills him with hope that is eternal, undiminishable, pure from every fear and every regret and has in it the fullness of bliss.

4) It fills him with warm and active love for God and his neighbor.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Third Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

  Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Second Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

Since the first two Ecumenical Synods were convened, beloved brethrens, and drafted the Symbol of Faith and normally the issues should have ended, but various philosophical theologians raised various theological issues and therefore this Synod took place in Ephesus in 431 AD by decision of Emperor Theodosius the Younger, with Saint Cyril of Alexandria as President of the Synod.

This Synod dealt with the heresy of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who argued that the Panagia should not be called Theotokos, but Christotokos, considering that the term Theotokos, like the phrase "Mother of God", have pagan origins. Therefore he would say that the Virgin Mary gave birth to the human Christ, while God "came forth from", "passed through" or "went through" her, but He was not bron from her as God. Nestorius said that it is wrong to say the Panagia is Theotokos, because she is not a goddess who gave birth to God.

Saint Anastasios the Weaver and the Healing of the Paralyzed Turk in 1918

The following is the testimony of Michael Christodoulos, of a miracle that took place in Cyprus:

"In 1918 I was seven years old. My father, who was the commissioner of the church [of Saint Anastasios the Wonderworker and Weaver, in the now occupied Peristeronopigi, in the province of Famagusta], always took me with him when Saint Anastasios celebrated [on September 17].

On September 16, after dinner, I was with other children outside the old church, among those who had come for the festival. Then they brought in a big cart a paralyzed Turk from Anglisides [a community of the province of Larnaca].

The Turks who accompanied him wanted to put him in the church [to stay overnight and be healed]. We children and some others protested and shouted not to put the Turk in the church.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The Second Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The Second Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 
After the First Ecumenical Synod, of which I spoke briefly last Sunday, beloved brethren, many ecclesiastical events took place, there was great unrest in the Church. Mainly because in the Symbol of Faith, drafted by the First Ecumenical Synod, the word "homoousios" (ὁμοούσιος, "of the same essence") was included, that the Son is "homoousios with the Father". This word "homoousios" was used by the heretics, who had received it from philosophy, and had other meanings. The Fathers, however, used it in the orthodox sense, to explain that the Word has the same essence as the Father.

Thus, after the First Ecumenical Synnod, the Christians were divided into various groups, namely: the Homoousians, who supported the Creed of Nicaea with the term "homoousios"; the Homoiousians, who held that the Son was not of the same essence as the Father, rather the essence was similar; the Anomians, who held that the Son had a dissimilar essence with the Father; the Heteroousians, who said that the Son had a different essence from the Father. Also, there appeared other heretics, who argued that the Holy Spirit is not God, but a creature, the so-called Pneumatomachoi. For this reason, the Second Ecumenical Synod convened in the year 381 in Constantinople to address these issues.

Photos of the Relics of Saint Euphemia from Constantinople


Life and Passion of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (Pontius of Carthage)

By Pontius of Carthage,
Deacon and Biographer of Saint Cyprian of Carthage

1. Although Cyprian, the devout priest and glorious witness of God, composed many writings whereby the memory of his worthy name survives; and although the profuse fertility of his eloquence and of God's grace so expands itself in the exuberance and richness of his discourse, that he will probably never cease to speak even to the end of the world; yet, since to his works and deserts it is justly due that his example should be recorded in writing, I have thought it wall to prepare this brief and compendious narrative. Not that the life of so great a man can be unknown to any even of the heathen nations, but that to our posterity also this incomparable and lofty pattern may be prolonged into immortal remembrance. It would assuredly be hard that, when our fathers have given such honour even to lay-people and catechumens who have obtained martyrdom, for reverence of their very martyrdom, as to record many, or I had nearly said, well near all, of the circumstances of their sufferings, so that they might be brought to our knowledge also who as yet were not born, the passion of such a priest and such a martyr as Cyprian should be passed over, who, independently of his martyrdom, had much to teach, and that what he did while he lived should be hidden from the world. And, indeed, these doings of his were such, and so great, and so admirable, that I am deterred by the contemplation of their greatness, and confess myself incompetent to discourse in a way that shall be worthy of the honour of his deserts, and unable to relate such noble deeds in such a way that they may appear as great as in fact they are, except that the multitude of his glories is itself sufficient for itself, and needs no other heraldry. It enhances my difficulty, that you also are anxious to hear very much, or if it be possible every thing, about him, longing with eager warmth at least to become acquainted with his deeds, although now his living words are silent. And in this behalf, if I should say that the powers of eloquence fail me, I should say too little. For eloquence itself fails of suitable powers fully to satisfy your desire. And thus I am sorely pressed on both sides, since he burdens me with his virtues, and you press me hard with your entreaties.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Miracles of Saint Joseph the New of Partos on His Journey to Timisoara

Saint Joseph the New of Partos lived as a monk at Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain for 62 years (1588-1650) when he was elected to be the Metropolitan of Timisoara, which is a city in Romania at that time under Turkish occupation. At 82 years of age, Saint Joseph had already become well known for his virtues and holiness.

Ecumenical Patriarch Parthenios (1644-1646, 1648-1651) ordained him Metropolitan in Constantinople, and from there he left for Timisoara with the permission of the Patriarchate, to whose jurisdiction the Holy Mountain belonged and still belongs today.

On the journey to Timisoara, when he arrived with his carriage to cross the Danube by ferry to Palanka, the horses were frightened and did not want to do the crossing.

Then his deacon Damaskinos, who was with the Saint, took the horses by the bridle and tried to make them cross the Danube. This was in vain, for the horses trembled and foamed at the mouth and the coachman began to curse them.

Then Saint Joseph got out of the carriage and rebuked the caochman for his curse words, then he took the reins from the hands of Damaskinos.

He spoke calmly to the horses, who immediately boarded the ferry and remained calm until they passed to the opposite side. All who were present marveled and knelt before the Saint and kissed his cassock, because they knew that he was chosen by God, since the beasts also submitted to him.

From there they set out to go to Banat, but when they got there it got dark and a windstorm began that darkened the sky so much that they could not see anything.

Then a heavy rain started and the two coachmen lost their way and did not find Banat. Saint Joseph and his entourage slept all the way and when the windstorm stopped and dawned they found themselves in a village.

When they entered the village, a gang of Turkish cavalry came out in front of them and stopped them. The Saint stuck his head out of the carriage and the chief on horseback asked him who the great infidel priest was.

To this question all his entourage were afraid but the Saint answered that he was.

Then Aga Ishmael, as the horseman was called, dismounted from his horse and calmly begged the Saint in the name of Allah and Jesus to return to Banat, because his first female chambermaid had been in labor for three days and an angel appeared to her, who she said that until the carriage with the great priest - who is going to Timisoara - passes in front of the door of the harem, Allah will not give her relief.

The angel foretold this to her, that the Aga would go at dawn to the village of Zama and wait for the Metropolitan, where he found him, and return him to Banat.

Aga Ishmael asked the Saint to come back with him and he would offer as much as he asked for.

Saint Joseph ordered the horsemen to return and told Aga that he was going not for worldly goods, but to fulfill the will of God. Then, the priest Haralambos who was in the escort checked the Metropolitan if it is right what he is going to do, that is, to listen to the request of a pagan and to satisfy his will?

The Saint rebuked him for his words.

The Saint, afterwards, did not say another word but immersed himself in prayer.

When the carriage passed in front of the entrance of the harem, the female chambermaid immediately was able to give birth to a boy. Aga Ishmael ran behind the carriage, stopped it and kissed the right hand of Saint Joseph, weeping like a child.

Before the Saint arrived in Timisoara, he was preceded by fifty Turkish cavalry sent by Pasha Fasli of Timisoara, to accompany him to the city, because he heard about the miracle that the Saint performed in Banat. 

Saint Bessarion I the Sanctified, Metropolitan of Larissa (+ 1500)

St. Bessarion the Sanctified of Larissa (Feast Day - September 15)

On September 15th the Synaxarion lists two Saints for commemoration that bear the same name and title: Metropolitan Bessarion I of Larissa (+1500) and Metropolitan Bessarion II of Larissa (+ 1540). The latter is the most well known of the two. Saint Bessarion I is officially known as Saint Bessarion the Sanctified, and he served as Metropolitan of Larissa from 1490 to 1499. Previously he had been the Bishop of Demetrias, and abandoned his post as Metropolitan of Larissa in 1499 due to old age. Unlike Bessarion II, his existence was not known for centuries, although there is a Patriarchal Sigillum of Dionysios with which Bessarion I was raised to the Metropolitan throne of Larissa in 1490. His existence was confirmed in 1920 when it was discovered that both Saints Bessarion I and II appeared together in a fresco in the Chapel of the Holy Anargyri in Trikala. This fresco in fact depicts seven metropolitans of Larissa, and Bessarion I is given the epithet of "the Former" and Bessarion II is known as "of the Savior". We know nothing else of his life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

September 14, 1943: The German Bombardment of Kerkyra and Kefallonia (Events Which Inspired the Book and Film "Captain Corelli's Mandolin")

One of the worst moments in the history of Kerkyra (Corfu) was the day of the feast of the Holy Cross on September 14, 1943.

Through various sources we made a historical and emotional effort to present the tragic events of that night (13th-14th) but also of the next day.

In early September, Italians and the people of Kerkyra struck a German ship which was going to disembark soldiers in Benitses. There were dozens dead.

The order of the Headquarters of the Italian Forces stated that the Italian soldiers, after the capitulation of Italy with the Allied Forces, must keep Kerkyra and Kefalonia under Italian occupation.

The Axe Head of the Prophet Elisha as a Foreshadowing of the Cross

In 2(4) Kings 6:1-7 we read:

And the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we dwell with you is too small for us. Please, let us go to the Jordan, and let every man take a beam from there, and let us make there a place where we may dwell.”

So he answered, “Go.”

Then one said, “Please consent to go with your servants.”

And he answered, “I will go.” So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, master! For it was borrowed.”

The Crosswise Blessing of the Patriarch Jacob as a Foreshadowing of the Cross

In Genesis 48:8-20 we read:

When Israel [Jacob] saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Saint Ketevan as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ketevan came from Georgia and lived in the 17th century. Her parents were pious and raised her with the admonitions of the Gospel. In fact, they had given her the Bible for reading. Purity, modesty, prudence and almsgiving adorned her youthful life. When she reached the age of marriage, she married the king of Kakheti, whose name was David. From her marriage she acquired a son, Teimuraz. Her husband David left this vain world early, and his reign was short-lived, having reigned only six months.

As queen Ketevan brought peace among the rulers and restored order between the Church and State, which had been turbulent. She built Holy Temples, Hospitals and took care with much love the widows and the orphans, and in general the poor and the weak. When her son grew up, she handed him the throne and she herself retired to the quiet, which she loved from her youth, and lived in asceticism and prayer. For the salvation of her nation she was driven out of the borders of her country, together with her relatives, and for her faith she endured horrible torments. She was taken to prison where she remained for ten years. She was martyred together with her spiritual father, the priest George, from whom she often received the Holy Mysteries, as did her followers. Her relics became a source of many miracles.

Saint Aristides and His Veneration in Greece

St. Aristides in a fresco from the Church of Panagia Phaneromeni in Aigio
 By Aristides G. Theodoropoulos

On September 13, the Orthodox Church honors and celebrates the memory of Saint Aristides, this eminent and eloquent Athenian philosopher and famous martyr of Christ, who became better known in Ecclesiastical History and Patrology by his famous Apology, which is also the oldest surviving apologetic text.

This eminent Christian philosopher, ardent apologist and glorious martyr of the 2nd century AD was born in Athens and studied classical philosophy at the famous Philosophical School of Athens.

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi Returns to his Monastery after a Three and a Half Month Battle With the Coronavirus

The return of Elder Ephraim to Vatopaidi Monastery on the Holy Mountain was an event that everyone was looking forward to. The fathers of the Monastery say that it was not accidental that he came exactly one day before the feast of the Monastery for the Holy Zoni of the Panagia. After being tested for the coronavirus in late May and for an absence of about three and a half months at Evangelismos Hospital and Animus Rehabilitation Center, he returned on September 11th healthy to his spiritual children.

The reception was modest and moving. He arrived around 7:30 p.m. at the port of the Monastery where all the Heads of the Monastery were waiting for him, while the whole brotherhood was waiting for him outside the gate of the Monastery, where the fathers, with obvious joy on their faces, lined up to receive his blessing and kiss his hand.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Metropolitan Chrysostomos and the Tragedy of Smyrna in 1922

 By Panagiotis Melikidis

On August 27, 1922, the Kemalist troops, after breaking through the defensive line of the Greek troops in the area of Eskişehir-Afyonkarahisar-Kütahya, invaded the city of Smyrna, where the Greek element was in the majority.

Among the victims of the Turkish atrocity is the Metropolitan of Smyrna and Exarch of all Asia, Chrysostomos Kalaphatis. The martyrdom of the Hierarch is considered the culmination of the atrocities committed by the Turks against the Christian population.

Homily on the Sunday Before the Elevation of the Cross (Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotis)

 By Metropolitan Augoustinos (Kantiotis) of Florina

(Delivered in 2010)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)

Did you hear, my brethren, today's Gospel? He spoke to us regarding He Who descended and ascended: descended to the deepest depths, to Hades, and ascended to the greatest height, to Heaven. He spoke to us about God. But what is God?

Once, they say, there was a king who was tortured by the thought: “What is God?” He called a great wise man and asked him: “What is God?” The wise man asked for three days to ponder this. He shut himself in and began to study, but after three days, he was in no position to give an answer.

Galatians 6:14 in Light of the Fathers of the "Philokalia"

"But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

- Paul the Apostle (Galatians 6:14)

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76. A  man  who  through  ascetic  effort  withers  the  flower  of  the  flesh,  and  cuts  off  all  its desires, bears in his mortal flesh the marks of the Lord (cf. Gal. 6:17).  

77. The  hardships  of  the  ascetic  life  end  in  the  repose  of  dispassion,  while  soft  ways  of living breed shameful passions.  

- St Theodoros the Great Ascetic (A Century of Spiritual Texts)

Saturday, September 11, 2021

The Expanding Veneration of Saint Theodora of Vasta

The famous 12th century Chapel of Saint Theodora of Vasta in the southern Peloponnese, with its seventeen trees growing on its roof, was a local shrine for hundreds of years, that gradually expanded in popularity since the 1950's, and today is one of the most visited shrines in Greece, with people coming there daily from all over the world. In the past few years especially the veneration of Saint Theodora has been expanding outside of the small village of Vasta. In 2010 I reported how a chapel dedicated to the Saint was built in Nafplio (see here). Now new frescoes and icons are popping up in various churches of Greece bearing the image of the Saint. The ones posted here are some newer examples, some with her signature chapel in Vasta and some without. Like Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, it seems like this is another Saint of old who in our times is in the process of going through an expanded veneration, primarily because of their association with miracles in our times. 

A 12th Century Fresco of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook

This fresco is among the oldest of Saint Euphrosynos the Cook, who is estimated to have lived in the ninth century in Palestine. It dates to 1191 and can be found in the Church of Saint George in Kurbinovo, Macedonia.

The Cave of Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller in Calabria

Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller (Sept. 11) lived with the hermit Cosma and his disciple Vitalio in a cave around the year 904. There he attracted a large following, so he decided to move to a larger cave where he could establish a monastery. He died in this place at ninety-six years old, after having lived for seventy-one years as a hermit. 960 is conventionally thought of as the year of his death, since the monastery founded by Elias had the title of “imperial monastery”, which was assigned by the Roman Emperor in Constantinople.

In the territory surrounding Melicuccà, whose name derives from the settlement founded by the inhabitants of the area among the large woods of Bagolari (in Greek "melikokkos"), in the heart of the Piana di Gioia Tauro, stands the ancient complex of hermit caves that hosted the ascetic path of Saint Elias in the early Middle Ages. The site represents some of the most important archaeological evidence from Byzantine Greek times in Southern Italy. Dating back to the 10th century, it preserves the remains of the monastery and of the annexed factories (cellar, mill, millstones, necropolis). In its heyday, the structure hosted over one hundred and fifty monks.

Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (+ 1882)

St. Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (Feast Day - September 11)

Hieromonk Ioanniki (in the world Trofim Nikitovich Averkiev) was born in 1823 into a family of peasants in the Livensk district of the Oryol province. The boy was distinguished by his particular intelligence and piety, he loved to be in church, and at the age of 16 he began to ask his parents to bless him to go to a monastery to become a monk. His desire for monasticism was especially intensified after one significant dream, in which he saw a church and monks in robes and hoods, ceremoniously going to a gathering in the middle of the church and singing a divine song - they took him by the hands and led him along, saying: “Go with us, do not be afraid to upset your parents, it is God's will for you to be with us."

Friday, September 10, 2021

Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods - The First Ecumenical Synod (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homilies on the Ecumenical Synods

The First Ecumenical Synod

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In this years short sermons for the Sundays of Summer, beloved brethren, I will refer to the Ecumenical Synods of our Church, and especially to the dogmatic issues which our Holy Fathers who comprised of them dealt with these. Orthodox Christians must know our Orthodox faith.

Of course, these issues are big and serious and they cannot be adequately analyzed in short eucharistic sermons, but we will highlight some of the key points of some of the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods that Orthodox Christians must know. This is, in other words, a small study, and those who are interested will be able to interest themselves in gaining more information.

The First Ecumenical Synod was convened in Nicaea of Bithynia, in the year 325 AD, by Constantine the Great. The presidents of the Synod were Eustathios of Antioch and Alexander of Alexandria, and perhaps Saint Kordouis.

The Patristic Basis of Theology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

It is very significant that Saint Maximus the Confessor at the beginning of his theological struggle spoke about hesychast and neptic issues. He began, that is, with the texts that speak about love and more generally the texts that speak about the healing of man. The second phase of his struggle he was concerned with transmitting the terminology of the Cappadocian Fathers regarding the Trinitarian God in the Person of Christ. And the third phase of his theological struggle he was concerned with the topic about how every nature has its own will, that is, it was against monothelitism in Christ.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Paradise and Hell According to Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian

Saint Basil the Great refers to the fire of the Three Children in the furnace to interpret Psalm 28/29:7, where it says the fire was split or divided in two. It did not burn for those who were in the midst of the furnace, but for those who were outside the furnace the same flames did burn. In a similar way, says Basil, after the Great Judgment the righteous will experience the fire of the presence of the Lord as light and delight, while sinners will experience the fire of the presence of the Lord as burning and punitive.

The Blessing of the Panagia by the Priests When She Was a One Year Old

Kaisariani Monastery is located on the north side of Mount Hymettus, near Athens. There we find a fresco depicting a scene from the sixth chapter of the Protoevangelium of James, which describes the blessing of the Panagia when she was a one year old by the Jewish priests, who were invited by Joachim and Anna to their home for a feast. Below is the description of the scene from the Protoevangelium:

And the child grew strong day by day; and when she was six months old, her mother set her on the ground to try whether she could stand, and she walked seven steps and came into her bosom; and she snatched her up, saying: "As the Lord my God lives, you shall not walk on this earth until I bring you into the temple of the Lord."

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Sermon for the Nativity of the Theotokos

How common it is for us to celebrate the birth and milestones in the life of our friends and those whom we hold dear. We enjoy celebrating their birthday and achievements expressing our camaraderie in their triumphs along their life’s journey, rejoicing when they rejoice. Is this not even more natural for us to do within the Church? There are many saints whom we are drawn to (or, more correctly, they draw us to themselves) and we, therefore, make a point to be aware of the day that their feast is celebrated, take time out to read their life and works, prepare and commune at the Divine Liturgy and honor them recognizing their place in the wider Church as well as in our own lives. Therefore, today is no different, and yet it is, due to the greatness of the one we are celebrating: Mary, the Mother of God.

The Cave of Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa (or the Cave of Pythagoras) in Samos


On the southeast side of Mount Kerkis, in the wild ravine of Kiourka, at an altitude of 350m above sea level, is the cave of the Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa (Gr: forty steps) or the Cave of Pythagoras, with an impressive view to the southeast, which reaches the sea.

At the front of the cave is a chapel, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which in addition to the name Panagia Sarantaskaliotissa is also known as Panagia Phaneromeni (Gr: revealed one) and celebrates on September 8th every year.

Inside the cave there is a small tank that is filled with water from the stalactites and then begins a dangerous abyss with a great depth.

Homily on the Nativity of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos (St. Photios the Great)

On the Nativity of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos 

Homily 9 of St. Photios the Great

Read here.

Homily on the Day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17).

Some of you, sometimes thinking that God will not hear you, or believing that your desire will not come true, do not pray to God at all, do not ask Him for what you want, what you need, what you lack - you do not pray to God, you do not ask Him, but grieve, lament, worry, sometimes even grumble that you do not have this or that.

Here is an example for you that the impossible, according to our concept, can come true if we ask God - the holy parents of the Most Holy Mother of God. Joachim and Anna were in old age, in such years when it was no longer possible to hope to have children, and especially they could not hope because even before that time they had no children at all. Despite the fact that they asked God for children, they persistently asked. Why? Because they really wanted to have children and they grieved very much that they did not have them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Saint Daniel of Katounakia Resource Page

St. Daniel of Katounakia (Feast Day - September 7)

Christ, Whom you hymned in asceticism on Athos,
You now hymn with your lips, O Daniel, in Heaven.


The Beautiful Chapel of Saint Sozon in Naxos

One night several years ago, the ship of a merchant sank in the sea off southern Naxos. The goods he had on board were oil and wine. In the battle he fought with the waves, he made a vow to God that if he was saved he would build a chapel of oil and wine in the area. Indeed, the adventure had a happy ending and he managed to get to a rocky spot on the coast.

The Remarkable Byzantine Church of Saint Sozontos in Orchomenos


In the central square of Orchomenos, near the Church of Panagia Skripou, is the magnificent Church of Saint Sozontos (or Sozon, locally known as Saint Sostis), which for many years, while the Monastery of Panagia Skripou operated, was the parish church of the settlement.

The small church dates back to either the 11th or the 12th century, but there is no evidence of its history. According to tradition, it was built by the late 10th century Roman Emperor Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer after a victorious battle that took place in the region of Boeotia.

It is a small one-room church with a dome and three niches, which are three-sided on the outside. Its walls are built of various materials, mainly of ancient stones and ceramic elements in second use, while the dome has more careful masonry. The dome is twelve-sided, and is considered unique in its kind, as its configuration is found mainly in churches of Constantinople.

Monk Ghenadie of Neamt, Who Died on his Knees in Prayer at the Age of 96

Monk Ghenadie of Neamt Monastery in Romania was born on 19 May 1927 and reposed on 3 September 2021. He was found in his monastic cell dead on his knees while in prayer.

Iconographer Daniel Codrescu, the artist who created the mosaic works at the Cathedral of the Salvation of the Nation, had a meeting with Monk Ghenadie at the Neamt Monastery on August 21, 2021.

After making his portrait on the bench on which he usually sat, with his eyes looking at the crowds of believers, he said to him: “Pray for me that God will end my good life and remember me.”

"He went to the Lord on his knees in prayer on September 3, and the funeral service will be on Tuesday at the Neamt Monastery, at 10 o'clock. God grant him rest among the righteous!", Daniel Codrescu transmitted, and published as a tribute the sketches from that August day, which we reproduce.

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Monday, September 6, 2021

The Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae Near Colossae (Commemorated on September 6th)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

In Colossae of Asia Minor, in the 2nd century AD, a miraculous event took place, featuring the Archangel Michael, which had been prophesied a few years before by John the Evangelist and Theologian.

Before proceeding, however, to the narration of this miracle, let us briefly mention that the angels are "ministering spirits sent to serve on behalf of those who inherit future salvation." God made them "leaders of all nations and peoples, and guides for their own good." They were created before the visible world and man. God "formed them before us and for us." Their appearance is bright and their garment is usually white, a fact that reveals their purity, and their food is the vision of the glory of God.

The Archangel Michael is referred to by name in the Holy Scriptures, where he is presented to serve the work of the divine Economy for the protection of people from any danger, and especially from the rage of the man-killing devil, who trembles at his sight, as we chant: "Wherever your grace overshadows Archangel, there the power of the devil is vanquished; for fallen lucifer is unable to abide in your light."

When the Turks Burnt Bishop Gerasimos of Pamphilus Alive During the Septemvriana of 1955

Bishop Gerasimos Kalokairinos of Pamphilus was the abbot of the Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Baloukli. In the events of September (Septemvriana) 1955, the Turks dug a pit and lit a fire and burned him alive and, thinking that he was dead, they abandoned him, alone, helpless and defenseless, but with God's help he managed to reach the Greek Hospital of Baloukli where he stayed for more than a month, but he had lost his eye that the Turks had removed from him. Bishop Gerasimos Kalokairinos passed away in 1972, his grave is in the Baloukli Cemetery.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew - The Consequences of Debt (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew (18:23-35)

The Consequences of Debt

Today's Gospel reading refers to the debtor of a myriad of talents, who could not repay his debt and his master ordered that he himself, his wife, his children, and his belongings be sold to pay off the debt. But he asked for forgiveness, which was granted to him. While he repaid his debt with repentance, he was cruel to his companion, and he did not forgive him, despite him asking, and put him in prison. His master found out about this, he who had previously forgiven him, so it was returned to him and he handed him over to the torturers.

This parable refers to the Kingdom of God, into which those who repent and ask God for forgiveness will enter, but in return they also forgive all those who have wronged them.

Homily on the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you..." (Matthew 18:35).

Pious listeners! Do you remember the Gospel parable of a king who wished to settle accounts with a servant? Remember how this king at first completely forgave his debtor ten thousand denarii, and after that he was so angry with him that he put him in prison, no matter how much he asked for mercy? And remember, of course, why the king was suddenly so angry with his debtor? For the fact that that debtor himself did not forgive a small debt to one of his comrades, he did not forgive at the very time when he asked the king for forgiveness.

This is how God does with us. No matter how we much ask Him, no matter how much we plead with Him, He does not forgive us a single sin, does not forget any of our bad deeds, if we ourselves do not forgive our neighbors, if we do not forget the insults we endure from them. On the contrary, if we do not take malice at our neighbors when they offend us, if we forget every evil that they do to us, then God also forgets our evil deeds, leaves us of our sins, no matter how grievous and insulting to Him. Even so, listeners, prayer, fasting, alms, and other good deeds are not pleasing to God when we harbor malice against our neighbors. On the contrary, God is merciful to us, although we pray little, give little alms, and do little other good deeds, as long as we only forgive and forget all the insults that others do to us.

Reflection on the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Lord concluded the parable about the two debtors with the following words: "So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." It would seem that such a small thing is needed: "forgive and you will be forgiven." When you are forgiven, you are brought into mercy; and when you are brought into mercy, you have become a participant in all the treasures of mercy. So here is salvation, and paradise, and eternal bliss. What a great acquisition for such a small thing as forgiving!…Yes, it is a small thing, but for our self-love there is nothing more difficult than to forgive. We still perhaps forgive some unintentional annoyance dealt us in private so that nobody sees; but if it is just a bit more sensitive, and in front of people, do not even ask — no forgiveness. There are circumstances when whether you want to or not, you are not allowed to express your displeasure — and so you remain silent. However, only your tongue is silent—meanwhile your heart speaks and builds evil plans. Raise the annoyance yet another degree — and there is no restraint. Neither shame, nor fear, nor loss, nor any other thing will restrain you. Egoism which has reached the boiling point makes a person as though insane, and he who gives in to it begins to talk foolishness. The people most subject to this misfortunate state are usually not just anybody — the more civilized one is, the more sensitive he is to insults, and the less forgiving. Relations will often remain smooth on the surface, but inwardly there is clearly discord. Meanwhile, the Lord requires that we forgive with our whole heart.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Chapel of the Burning Bush at Mount Sinai

The Chapel of the Burning Bush is the most ancient shrine in the Monastery of Saint Katherine at the base of Mount Sinai, and it was around this site that the first community of Sinai anchorites gathered. The bush was mentioned by Egeria, who came to Sinai in 383-384 AD. The chapel is behind the sanctuary of the Basilica of the Transfiguration. Pilgrims enter this most holy place without shoes, in keeping with God’s command to Moses.

According the oldest monastic tradition, this chapel sits atop the roots of the same biblical bush "that burned with fire, and was not consumed" (Exodus 3:2) when God spoke to Moses for the first time. A few feet away from the chapel is the reputed bush itself, a rare species of the rose family called Rubus Sanctus. This species is endemic to Sinai and extremely long-lived, a fact that lends scientific credence to the site. The sprawling bush is said to have been transplanted in the tenth century, when the chapel was given a roof and the bush needed sunlight to survive. Today, it is very large in size, even though it is trimmed and its remains are ironically burned in flames.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Homily Eight on the Interpretation of the Doxology: "The Holy God" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

On the Interpretation of the Doxology:
The Holy God

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The verses of the Doxology, which is a prayer and consists of many verses from Holy Scripture, and which we analyzed in the eucharistic sermons of the Summer Sundays, are important and direct the thinking of Christians to the Triune God, the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son and Word of God, but also the absolute faith that every Christian must have in the protection of God. Thus, the Doxology shows both the pinnacle of our faith, but also the way in which we must live, if we want to be true members of the Church of Christ.

The text of the Doxology, in another form, which does not deviate much from the one we analyzed, is also read during Compline and this shows its value and importance.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Salutations to the Holy Martyr Mamas (St. Neophytos the Recluse)

By St. Neophytos the Recluse
(Excerpt from his Encomium to the Holy Martyr Mamas)
Rejoice, Mamas the champion of the Lord worthy of admiration, for like Jeremiah you were destined before your mother gave birth to you; born in prison there you were left after your parents delivered their souls to the Lord.

Rejoice, Mamas, for as one chosen by God, an angel of the Lord urged Matrona to take you from prison to raise you, and to bury the bodies of your parents with honor.

Rejoice, Mamas who underwent many contests, for from a young age you were brought to trials before tyranical kings and rulers, and having rebuked their unbelief, you testified for Christ; although you were a young child in age, you had a divine and perfect mind of a great man.

The 10th Century Church of Saint Mamas on the Island of Naxos

The 10th century Church of Saint Mamas is perhaps the oldest church on the island of Naxos. Located in a lush green valley of Potamia stands this Byzantine structure that is believed to have been built over an even older Christian church.

Before the Venetian occupation of the Cyclades, the Church of Saint Mamas served as the Orthodox Cathedral of Naxos. After 1207, when the Venetians conquered the islands, the church was turned into a Catholic chapel.

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