Saturday, January 23, 2021

Eldress Philothei Agiometeriotissa (+ December 9, 2020)

By Archimandrite Demetrios Kavvadias
On Saturday, January 16, 2021, a Holy Hierarchical Forty-Day Memorial Service was held at the Holy Monastery of Rousanou at Meteora for the repose of the servant of God Philothei the Nun, Abbess of this Holy Monastery.

In the world she was known as Sophia, one of the seven children of Priest Michael and Presvytera Andromache Kosvyras, who saw the light of day on March 31, 1949 in the town of Kalambaka. Her family was originally from Agnantia, Trikala, but they went to Kalambaka for more security because at that time the wider region as well as all of Greece was groaning from the sufferings of the civil war which came to complete the evil brought to our homeland by World War II. The priests and their families were also targeted and so Father Michael lived with his family in Kalambaka.

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Veneration of Saint Anastasios the Persian in Zakynthos

By Dionysis Flemotomos

In Zakynthos, the name Anastasios celebrates on January 22, the day of the commemoration of Saint Anastasios the Persian, and not at Easter, as usually happens in the rest of Greece. This is also one of our many peculiarities, for which, as we have written other times, a special, local holiday calendar needs to be published, so that foreigners can wish us without mistakes and the necessary corrections from us, the "Many Years".

The church of this not so well-known Martyr and Saint existed in the center of the city and at the beginning of the street which led to the old hospital. It was built at the end of the 17th century by the Cretan refugee and Archpriest Stephanos Paladas, who, along with many other compatriots, found refuge on our island, after the fall of Candia. Later this temple, according to information of our various historians, came under the ownership of John Katramis, Martinegou, A. Modinou and P. Tzanne and, unfortunately, was burned down by the earthquake catastrophe of August 1953. Today, there is a street with the name of the Saint of the church, to commemorate its existence, since the older residents post-earthquake also called the area "Agios Anastasis", but today no one remembers it.

Introductory Homily on First Timothy (St. John Chrysostom)

Introductory Homily on First Timothy

By St. John Chrysostom

1. Timothy too was one of the disciples of the Apostle Paul. To the extraordinary qualities of this youth testimony is borne by Luke, who informs us, that he was "well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:2). He became at once a disciple and a teacher, and gave this singular instance of his prudence, that hearing Paul preach without insisting upon circumcision, and understanding that he had formerly withstood Peter upon that point, he chose not only not to preach against it, but to submit to that rite. For Paul, it is said, "took and circumcised him" (Acts 16:3), though he was of adult age, and so trusted him with his whole economy.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Timeliness of Saint Maximus the Confessor

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

(Sermon Delivered in the Metropolitan Church of Ioannina 
on 21 January 2020)

First of all, I would like to warmly thank His Eminence the Metropolitan of Ioannina and beloved brother in Christ, Maximos, for the ministry of the word that he has entrusted to me, and especially today, when the great teacher of our Church celebrates, Saint Maximus the Confessor, whose name the Metropolitan and my beloved brother in Christ bears.

Your Eminence Metropolitan of Ioannina and beloved brother Maximos, revered chorus of Hierarchs, Priests of God the Most High, ministry of Christ, most honorable leaders and chosen Christians:

It is known to all of you that from the time your Metropolitan, who bears the name of Saint Maximus, came here to Ioannina, various speeches have been made about this great teacher of the Church. Saint Maximus lived in the seventh century, in a very difficult century in many ways, and he became a foremost teacher of our Church and a great theologian, a soaring eagle of theology.

Life, Writings and Theology of Saint Maximus the Confessor (Fr. George Florovsky)

By Fr. George Florovsky
 The Life of St. Maximus

We know little about St. Maximus’ worldly life. He came from an old, distinguished family and was, it seems, favored by Emperor Heraclius — possibly even related to him. He was born about 580 in Constantinople. He received an excellent education. His biographer writes that St. Maximus received the εγκύκλιος παίδευσις: Sherwood is correct in writing that "this would mean that his training lasted from about his sixth or seventh year till his twenty-first, and contained grammar, classical literature, rhetoric and philosophy (including arithmetic, music, geometry, astronomy, logic, ethics, dogmatics and metaphysics), and also that it must have included his first contact with Aristotle and the Neo-Platonists (through the commentaries of Proclus and lamblichus)." St. Maximus studied philosophy with a special love. Later on, St. Maximus’ great gift for dialectic and logic, and his formal culture with its great erudition, left their mark on his disputes with the Monothelites. His erudition was not merely restricted to ecclesiastical topics but included a wide range of secular knowl edge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

After More Than Four Months, An Icon of the Virgin Mary Continues to "Weep" in a Suburb of Athens

Since September 8, 2020 in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Nea Elvetia of Vyronas, a suburb of Athens, an icon of the Virgin Mary continues to weep till this day. It has been confirmed to be authentic by the local Metropolis. Daily Supplication services continue there every morning at 11:00am and 5:30pm, where the names of the living and the dead are commemorated, whether given to them directly or sent to them through electronically. The number of miracles increases daily.

The Death-Bed Confession of a Persecutor of Christians


By Metropolitan Nektarios of Argolidos

Let me end with an incident told to me in Odessa a few years ago and published in the book In the Vortex of a Changing World - The New Martyrs of Berdyansk:

"Odessa 2002. The groans of an elderly patient are heard in the ward of a large state hospital in the Ukrainian city. Cancer is widespread. The pains are horrible. Painkillers are not enough. Day and night awake. The patient awaits death as a redemption. Many times he reaches the brink of death, but he seems to be indifferent. For months now he has been fighting between life and death. Ordinary people would say: 'His soul does not come out.'

The Miraculous and Prophetic Birth of Saint Euthymios the Great

 By Cyril of Scythopolis

Euthymios, the heavenly citizen, had parents whose names were Paul and Dionysia. They were not undistinguished but of most noble birth and adorned with every godly virtue, while as fatherland and home they had Melitene, the famous metropolis of Armenia. Blessed Dionysia, after cohabiting with her husband for many years, had not given birth, being sterile. As a result they were much disheartened, and the two of them continued for a long time to entreat God earnestly to give them a child. Going to the shrine near the city there of the glorious and victorious martyr Polyeuktos, they persevered for many days in prayer, as the account of the ancient monks that has come down to me has made known; and one night, as they were praying alone, a divine vision appeared to them and said, "Be tranquil, be tranquil; for behold, God has granted you a child who will bear the name of tranquil (euthymia), since at his birth he who grants you him will give tranquility to his churches." Noting the hour of the vision, they returned home.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Prayer of Saint Mark of Ephesus Before Departing for Italy to Attend the Synod of Ferrara-Florence

Prayer of Saint Mark the Eugenikos, 
Metropolitan of Ephesus
(Offered Before His Departure For Italy)
I who, in the pursuit of virtue, am idle and tormented by thoughts derived from the passions, what can I do, long-suffering Lord? Lest I fall and lose Your great gifts, and to me lest the mystery of Your goodness and good-pleasure become inactive? Don't let that happen to me, O God, You who love compassion and who loves my soul. Let me not be abandoned by You, let me not find myself on the side of the evil one that leads to deprivation, but You who receive the persistent pleas of Your saints and accepts the intercessions of Your sacred angels, especially of our most-superior Lady the Theotokos, give me the strength to follow Your path, demanding from me not the worthy fruit of repentance, but that which is in accordance with my powers. Put in my hard heart Your fear and through it completely cleanse it and soften it in Your immovable love. And when I depart from my body grant me rest in the place inhabited by Your saints, and grant me to be satisfied with the vision of Your eternal glory, for You are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Source: From Codex 226 of Dionysiou Monastery on the Holy Mountain. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.   

The "Spiritual Homilies" of Saint Makarios of Egypt (Fr. George Florovsky)


By Fr. George Florovsky

The Sources and the Problems with the Manuscripts.

The fifty Spiritual HomiliesΟμιλίαι πνευματικαί — which have come down to us under the name of St. Macarius of Egypt (c. 300-c. 390) — known also as St. Macarius the Great — have been one of the greatest sources in the history of early Christian mysticism and their influence has been enormous throughout the history of Christianity both in the East and the West. The question of authorship is still under contention. Since the time of the first edition (the first to publish them under Macarius' name was Johannes Picus in 1559 who added a Latin translation), it has been customary to consider the author St. Macarius. Our knowledge of St. Macarius comes chiefly from the Apophthegmata Patrum, Rufinus' translation of the Historia Monachorum, and Palladius' The Lausiac History. He was a native of Upper Egypt who, at about the age of thirty, founded a colony of monks in the desert in Scete (Wadi-el-Natrum). This colony became one of the main centers of Egyptian monasticism. After obtaining a reputation for powers of healing and prophecy, St. Macarius was ordained a priest about 340. St. Macarius was also a staunch supporter of St. Athanasius and, as a result, experienced a brief period of exile under St. Athanasius' successor Lucius, who banned him to an island in the Nile. St. Macarius was greatly influenced by St. Antony. In addition to the sources mentioned above, St. Macarius is mentioned by the historians Socrates (c.380-450) and Sozomen (early fifth century). A separate biography of St. Macarius exists in Coptic and Syriac translations. However, none of these accounts by these ancient authors mentions the writings of St. Macarius.

Holy Brothers Maximos and Dometios at Nitria

Sts. Maximos and Dometios the Brothers (Feast Day - January 19)

You were sanctified, young men, by prayer,
Maximos and Dometios, brothers.

Saints Maximos and Dometios were brothers according to the flesh, raised with all the comforts, prosperity and honors given to them by the imperial position of their father, Roman Emperor Valentinian I. Though handsome in appearance, within them they were adorned with the divine virtues. These young men loved God above all else and wanted to dedicated their lives completely to pleasing the Lord, so they left all that the world had to offer them and fled to Egypt to become disciples of Saint Makarios the Great in Nitria.

Saint Makarios, Bishop of Ierissos

St. Makarios of Ierissos (Feast Day - January 19)

The Venerable and God-bearing Makarios lived during the reigns of the emperors Constantine the Great (324-337), Theodosius (379-395) and Arcadius (395-408). He was probably the first Bishop of Ierissos in Halkidiki and is considered the builder of the Church of Saint Stephen in the Monastery of Konstamonitou of Mount Athos.

Monday, January 18, 2021

"On Peace With One Another": A Timeless and Always Relevant Homily of Saint Gregory Palamas


This first homily of St. Gregory Palamas was delivered during a procession, which took place either in December of 1350 or in January of 1351, on the third day following his entry into Thessaloniki, when the city was liberated from the Zealots by Emperor John VI Cantacuzenos (1347-1354). Though elected Metropolitan in May of 1347, Palamas, because of the strife caused by the fierce politico-religious disputes of the day, had twice been refused entry into the city, once in 1347 and then again in 1348. With this homily, he encouraged all the Orthodox Christians of Thessaloniki to be at peace with another, and unite in their purpose in Christ.


On Peace With one Another

By Saint Gregory Palamas

Delivered three days after his arrival in Thessalonica.

1. We are all brethren in that we have one Creator and Lord, who is Father to us all. That brotherhood we share with animals and inanimate nature. We are also brethren one to another as descendants of one earthly father, Adam, and the only creatures made in God's images. But even this is common to all nations. More especially, however, we are brethren in that we are of the same race and live in the some place; and above and else, share one mother, the Holy Church and true piety, the author and finisher of which is Christ, the rightful Son of God. Not only is He our God, but He was well-pleased to be our Brother, our Father and our Head, bringing us all together into one body and making us members of one another and of Himself.

Life, Work and Thought of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria (Fr. George Florovsky)

I. Life.

St. Athanasius was born into a Greek Christian family in Alexandria at the end of the third century, probably in 295. During his youth he witnessed the persecutions which took place under Diocletian. In the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, he spent "little time" in getting a general education or in studying the secular sciences but he had some knowledge of classical philosophy and of Neoplatonism in particular. He gave most of his attention to the study of Scripture, which he knew extremely well. Possibly he studied at the Catechetical School in Alexandria.

Saint Maksim of Serbia, Archbishop of Wallachia (+ 1516)

St. Maksim of Serbia (Feast Day - January 18)
Saint Maksim was the son of the Despot of Serbia, Saint Stephen the Blind (Dec. 10) and of his wife Saint Angelina (July 30). He was born in 1461, while his parents were residing in the region of Skadar, and he was baptized with the name Dorde Bramkovic. The family later moved to northern Italy and acquired castle Belgrado in the region of Friuli. His father, Despot Stephen died in 1476, and young Dorđe became his principal heir. In 1479, Emperor Friedrich III granted them castle Weitensfeld in Carinthia, and Đorđe moved there with the rest of family.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Church of the Ten Lepers in Burqin, Palestine

According to Christian tradition, Burqin is the place in "the region between Samaria and Galilee" where the miracle from Luke 17:11-19 took place: Jesus was passing through on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem when he heard cries for help from ten lepers who were living isolated nearby. He encountered them and told them to present themselves to the priests, although they were not yet cured. On their way their leprosy disappeared. One of them, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to give thanks. Jesus blamed the nine who did not recognize that their healing was God's gift, faith being the real salvation. Since this miracle, the current Church of the Ten Lepers, also known as the Monastery of Saint George, became a station for many Christian pilgrims.

Sermon on the Ten Lepers and Gratitude (Metr. Anthony Sourozh)

Sermon on the Ten Lepers and Gratitude

17 December 1989

By Metropolitan Anthony Sourozh

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Ten lepers came to the Lord; ten men who were ritually unclean and therefore, ritually rejected by their community, unable to attend the common worship of the Temple, unable to come near the habitations of men; and unclean also in the eyes of men because their sickness could be transmitted to others: others could become impure, others could be sick unto death.

In Praise of the Desert Fathers of Egypt and of the Renowned Saint Anthony the Great (St. John Chrysostom)

By St. John Chrysostom

And now, should you come unto the desert of Egypt, you will see this desert become better than any paradise, and ten thousand choirs of angels in human forms, and nations of martyrs, and companies of virgins, and all the devil's tyranny put down, while Christ's kingdom shines forth in its brightness. And the mother of poets, and wise men, and magicians, were but inventions of sottish old women, but the real philosophy, and worthy of heaven, is this, which was declared unto them by the fishermen. And for this very cause, together with their so great exactness in doctrine, they exhibit also by their life that extreme seriousness. For when they have stripped themselves of all that they have, and are crucified to the whole world, they urge their course on again yet farther, using the labor of their body for the nourishment of them that be in need. For neither, because they fast and watch, do they think it meet to be idle by day; but their nights they spend in the holy hymns and in vigils, and their days in prayers, and at the same time in laboring with their own hands imitating the zeal of the apostle. For if he when the whole world was looking unto him for the sake of nourishing them that were in need, both occupied a workshop, and practised a craft, and being thus employed did not so much as sleep by night; how much more, say they, is it meet that we, who have taken up our abode in the wilderness, and have nothing to do with the turmoils in the cities, should use the leisure of our quiet for spiritual labors!

On Saint Anthony the Great (Jerome, Socrates Scholasticus, Sozomen)

St. Jerome (On Illustrious Men, 88):

Anthony the monk, whose life Athanasius bishop of Alexandria wrote a long work upon, sent seven letters in Coptic to various monasteries, letters truly apostolic in idea and language, and which have been translated into Greek. The chief of these is To the Arsenoites. He flourished during the reign of Constantine and his sons.

Saint Anthony and Anchorite Monasticism (Fr. George Florovsky)

By Fr. George Florovsky

The monastic movement developed in the early fourth century, although the essential components of monasticism are found in the earliest life of the Church. Individual anchorites were leaving the cities even earlier than the fourth century. During the time of emperor Decius (emperor from 249 to 251), they were hiding from persecution and turned their forced flight into a voluntary "ordeal," a spiritual struggle. They wandered in the wilderness and lived in caves and on precipices. Even in the cities themselves many led a reserved and aloof life — such was the "gnostic" ideal of Clement of Alexandria. In any event, communes of virgins arose quite early, as evidenced in St. Methodius' Symposium or Banquet of the Ten VirginsΣυμπόσιον ή περι άγνείας — although these were only isolated cases. “The monk did not yet know the great desert," says St. Athanasius, if he is the author of the Vita Antonii. One must distinguish, however, between the development of monasticism proper in the fourth century and the features or essential characteristics of that later monastic life which was found in the early life of the Church.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Two Most Recent Miracles of Venerable David of Evia and Saint Iakovos Tsalikes

In a recent interview with Maria Yiachnaki for the radio program "Epikairotita", Elder Gabriel, the current Abbot of the Monastery of Venerable David in Evia, reported two of the most recent miracles of Venerable David and Saint Iakovos Tsalikes, which took place within the past few weeks of 2021.

The first miracle concerns a 23 year old young man named John. On January 6, 2021 John participated in the Cross retrieval competition which followed the Sanctification of the Waters ceremony at the coastal town of Amarynthos. His goal was to capture the Cross then go to the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia to venerate the relics of Venerable David and Saint Iakovos. As John rushed to dive into the water to retrieve the Cross first, he somehow injured his head and neck really bad, landing him in the hospital with critical injuries and in a coma. John's young friends and fellow competitors decided to put their faith in God to deliver and heal their friend, so on Saturday the 9th of January they drove two hours to the Monastery of the Venerable David, as John had hoped to have done, to venerate the relics of Saint Iakovos Tsalikes and Venerable David and seek their intercessions and aid. When they arrived, they found the Monastery to be closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, so they knocked on the door. They explained to the Abbot their situation and asked to venerate the relics of the Saints. The Abbot allowed them in, then he brought out the skull of Venerable David, and blessed a shirt that belonged to John which the boys had brought with them, then they all venerated the relic. The Abbot then gave them holy oil, which they brought to the mother of John, who rubbed the head and neck of her son with it, then they placed the blessed shirt of John on him. Immediately John began to recover from that moment. As of January 15th, John is still recovering from his injury, but he is no longer in critical condition, and many people all over Greece are praying for him.

The German Soldier Who Shot a Bullet at an Icon of Saint Barbara

During the German occupation of Greece, in the city of Sparta, there was a German soldier, known in the local community for his awkward and bad character.

One day as he was passing by the Church of Saint Barbara, he repeatedly shot at the icon of the Saint which was on the iconostasis of the crossroads towards Kalogonia, opposite the church. One of the bullets struck the Saint directly on the neck. This naturally made the Spartans react and it made them upset.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Pilgrimage to the Holy Peak of Mount Sinai

At 2400 meters and after a three hour walk and an ascent of 750 stairs from the Monastery of Saint Katherine, a pilgrim arrives at the Holy Peak of Mount Sinai, where he is greeted by the Chapel of the Holy Trinity on the spot where the Prophet Moses received the Ten Commandments from the Lord. As he enters the chapel and shows us the iconography of the chapel, mainly related to the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness led by Moses and Aaron, the priest leads the faithful in chanting the dismissal hymns to Saint Katherine and the Prophet Moses. Exiting the chapel, he takes us to the cave where Moses stayed for many days on the peak (around the four minute mark). Then he shows us the peak opposite the mountain where the body of Saint Katherine was found, and then the area where the Israelites set up their camp at the foot of Mount Sinai. He concludes by showing their next destination as they descend the mountain - the Monastery of Saint Katherine.

Saint Arsenios of Reggio in Calabria (+ 904)

Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller (Sept. 11) was born to a wealthy family of nobles in Reggio of Calabria in the year 864. One day a monk approached him in church and upbraided him for his rich clothes and frivolous life. The young man changed at once and at the age of eighteen ran away to Taormina to escape marriage. From there he traveled to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles, but seeing the dissoluteness in the city and its clergy, he returned to Reggio.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Who Is Saint Sava of Serbia? (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

SAINT SAVA is the spiritual revivalist of the Serbian people.

SAINT SAVA is the founder of the national Church of the Serbian people, its first archbishop and organizer.

SAINT SAVA is the strengthener of the Orthodox faith in the Serbian people. He eradicated and rejected Western and other heresies from the Serbian people and established his people in Eastern Orthodoxy. Thus, he most powerfully influenced the determination of the historical destiny of the Serbian people.

The Tomb of Saint Nina in Bodbe Monastery

According to Georgian tradition, Saint Nina (or Nino), having witnessed the conversion of Georgians to the Christian faith, withdrew to the Bodbe gorge, in Kakheti, where she died in 338 on 14 January. The cause of her death was "fever and chills", which in modern terminology corresponds to malaria. Grieving over the death of the Enlightener of Georgia, King Mirian III (r. 284-361) decided to take the Saint to Mtskheta and bury her in front of Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli, where the tunic of Christ (allotted to Georgian Jews after the Crucifixion) was buried. However not even two hundred men could move the small coffin in which Nina was carried. Because of this the corpse of the Saint was buried in Bodbe, and the whole kingdom mourned for her for thirty days. King Mirian had a church built at the site of Nina's burial, which later became a convent. Before passing away King Mirian said to Queen Nana, “You, Nana, if God grants you enough time, divide the royal treasury into two and sacrifice half of it to the tomb. Let this place be honored unto the ages.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Three Prayers For Every Orthodox Christian Household

Prayer When We Light an Oil Lamp 
or a Candle In Our Homes

Let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

Prayer When We Light Incense In Our Homes

Let my prayer be set forth before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Hear me, O Lord.

We offer you this incense, Christ our God, as a fragrant spiritual aroma; accept it upon your heavenly altar, and send down upon us the Grace of Your All-Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 11, 2021

What My Grandmother Taught Me


By Archimandrite Gregory the Archipelagitis,
Former Abbot of Docheiariou Monastery on Mount Athos

My grandmother taught me with her life and her words the reverence of our forefathers: "Fasting, my child, is the basis of all physical asceticism."

Every Great Lent my grandmother and her entire household went without oil.

She taught me to light an oil lamp, to cense, to light a candle in front of icons, and to pray morning and night.

She taught me to do prostrations as prayers that are accepted by God.

Foolishness for the Sake of Christ

 By Father Chrysostomos,
Monastery of the Panagia Lampidonos

Once, on Mount Athos, I went to the Skete of the Monastery of Xenophontos, in a Cell, where Saint Athanasios the Athonite was being celebrated on his feast. Many pilgrims had come to the festival of the Cell. I was impressed by someone, whose clothing was poor, trying to make himself look like a servant of the belly, and he would go out every now and then to smoke. I asked about him and most of the comments were that he was crazy or something. I got up at some point and I approached him and told him, "Let's go outside for a while." I asked him how he found himself to be on Mount Athos and where he lived. And I said to him, "Have you been on Mount Athos for so many years and you smoke?" In fact, as he smoked, he just took the smoke in and then he released it out. We moved away from the others and I gained his trust and I said, "You will tell me the truth," and he explained to me how he came to be on Mount Athos. He lived in a cell on a hill, which had no windows, just a sleeping mattress, a candle and some books. His survival was made by serving the fathers of the Skete, shopping for them in Karyes and generally doing their chores. He never told anyone, "I'm tired and can't go." Karyes was about forty-five minutes on foot. And he told his story and I realized that I did not have a common man next to me. In the end I asked him, "Have they not proposed to make you a monk who has lived in the Skete for so many years?" And he said, "Of course, and the Abbot said it, but I believe if I was going to become a monk I could not do it." This was an excuse I did not believe. He struggles, he struggled and I am sure that at that time when his soul will rise, those who made fun of him will understand. Many years have passed since then and I do not know if he is alive.

The Nun Who Passionately Loved Christ

By Demetrios Panagopoulos (1916-1982), 

I once knew a nun, who had divine eros. This nun helped me with her manner, so that in 1951 I returned on the path of God. This nun, when she said the word "Christ", abundant tears ran from her eyes, as if someone turned on a faucet within her. I have never seen anything like this in anyone else (I have seen it also with Elder Hieronymos of Aegina). This nun would tell me characteristically: "People should know, my Demetrios, how much Christ loves us!" As she said this the tears were running without stopping. We don't have such things, and the only things we care about, are if the third bell has rung so we can go to church for the last minute.

Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

Panagia Prousiotissa and the Lamp That Has Burned for 1200 Years

For 1200 years the oil lamp of the Panagia has never been extinguished.

Even when one monk was here, the oil lamp was lit.

Imagine how much pain was heard by her Grace over the past 1200 years, how many candles were lit, how many oil lamps, and how many Saints passed through here.

The amazing thing is that our Panagia has a special Grace, and the more you greet her the more you want to come back.

You see how many pilgrims are here? They greeted the Panagia, and until they leave they will return five times, and when they go outside, they will come back in to greet her again.

- Elder Ioanikkios,
Abbot of the Monastery of Panagia Prousiotissa

(From the television program, Eikones. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.)

Protopsaltis Harilaos Taliadoros Has Reposed

It has been reported that Harilaos Taliadoros, one of the great performers and teachers of Byzantine music in our times, has reposed at the age of 95, due to infection with the coronavirus. Those who ever had the opportunity to hear him live know what a master of Byzantine music he really was. If I were to list my own personal ten best worship experiences in an Orthodox church in my life, one of them would certainly be when I had the unique opportunity to hear him chant in the mid-1990's an expanded (because no one wanted it to end) Great Vespers for the feast of Saint Methodios of Constantinople at Holy Cross Chapel in Brookline, Massachusetts, with him as the Protopsaltis and Photios Ketsetzis as the Lampadarios. It may have been the closest to heaven I've ever been in my life. May his memory be eternal!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Life of Saint Gregory of Nyssa

On the 10th of January, 
the holy Church commemorates 
our holy father among the saints, 
Gregory of Nyssa.1

Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa (372)2 is to be praised for the holiness of his conduct of life, his theological knowledge, and his zealous promotion of the Orthodox Faith embodied in the Nicene clauses. He is believed to have been born at Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia, ca. 335 or 336. The family of Saint Gregory was wealthy, distinguished, and conspicuously Orthodox. He was the younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (ca. 330-379). Our saint made no account of his honorable descent. He left blood lines, wealth, and splendor to the friends of this world. He believed that the Christian's lineage was his affinity with the divine.

Homily for the Sunday After Theophany (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)

 Homily for the Sunday After Theophany

On Repentance

By St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17).
With these profound and holy words, the incarnate Word began His preaching to fallen mankind. Outwardly, such simple teaching! But one must understand it with his very life: then these short and simple words which are contained in all of the Gospel will be revealed. Just as the holy Apostle Paul, when preaching the Gospel, which he did throughout almost all the known world, said that he testified “both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

The Pillars of Cloud and Fire in the Wilderness and the Star of Bethlehem Were Angels of the Lord

"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night." (Exodus 13:21-22)
"And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them." (Exodus 14:19)
"And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses." (Exodus 33:9)

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Russian Church Fulfills the Theory of "First Without Equals"

Concelebration of Primates at the Holy and Great Synod (June 2016)

By Panagiotis Andriopoulos
The "traditionalists" in Greece associate Ukrainian Autocephaly with a "new Ecclesiology of the Phanar", as they characterize it, which wants the Ecumenical Patriarch "first without equals". In fact, they characterize it as an "ecumenistic theory".

This is not, of course, an invention on behalf of those who are anti-patriarchate's in Greece. They embody the theory developed by Moscow and is constantly being reproduced by the representatives of the Russian Church: from Hilarion of Volokolamsk to - recently - the rector of the Theological Academy of Kiev, Bishop Sylvestor of Bilogorodsk, who told us: "Representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople today are guided by the teaching of the special status and rights of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Among the followers of this teaching, one can name, for example, Metropolitan John Zizioulas and Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis)."

Commentary on the Opposition of the Russian Church to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Occasion of the Interview of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

By Kostas Karakotias

The establishment in the public sphere, but also in the minds and lives of people, of the pandemic and its tragic consequences does not cancel or suspend the efforts of many and various opposing social and ideological forces to consolidate and expand their political and cultural rule. Often this effort is manifested along narrow roads and in oblique ways. Suddenly in the [Greek] newspaper "Kathimerini", on Sunday 12/13/2020, a long interview of the Russian Metropolitan Hilarion, a close associate of the Patriarch of Moscow, was published. The exclusive topic of the interview was the secession of the Ukrainian Church from the Russian one and the recognition of its autocephaly by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The interviewee was a strong complainant towards the Patriarchate of Constantinople and even directly and personally against Patriarch Bartholomew himself, whom he even accused of "knowingly violating ecclesiastical canons to harm the Russian Church." Of course, even the most ignorant of the ecclesiastics realize that the Russian Church, which is completely connected to the Russian state and its international political interests, under the pretext of some alleged ecclesiastical reasons, is trying to maintain its influence in Ukraine and prevent its Church from being independent. Especially when the relations between Russia and Ukraine are extremely disturbed and whole areas of the latter have been almost annexed by the former. It is easy to understand the enormous benefit for Russia of the religious/ideological disciplining and subordination of the Ukrainian faithful to all forms of dictates of the Russian Church.

The Scandal of (Divine?) Revenge

By Metropolitan Joseph of Buenos Aires

To my surprise I read a transcript of an interview with the Patriarch of Moscow on the Russian channel Россия-1 on the occasion of the recent Christmas celebration according to the Old Calendar. In this interview, His Holiness assures that "the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque last July is a punishment from God to Patriarch Bartholomew for granting the autocephalous tomos to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church."*

I re-read this sentence, which summarizes the whole interview, and the surprise turned into frustration and discomfort.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Holy Water and the Averting of Natural Disasters and Epidemics

By John B. Kostakis

Man's bitter enemy, the most-wicked Satan, in order to harm the supreme creation of God, as much as possible, turns with destructive rage against the material and soulless things that have been given in the service of his needs. Thus he infects fruit trees, vineyards, gardens, fields, various crops, homes and facilities in order to bring pain and misery into people's daily lives. In the life of Saint Anthony we see the attacks that the Saint received in his humble hut, from the demons, in the form of reptiles and wild beasts, which made terrifying noises to bend the fighting spirit of the great ascetic. The cunning enemy is capable of causing diseases, accidents, and bodily harm to humans and animals.

"Electrifying" Your Home With the Energy of the Holy Spirit (Metr. Athanasios of Limassol)

A home without a lit oil lamp in front of icons is cold and dark, but when you have a lit oil lamp in front of your icons, you are giving yourself a physical reminder of the energy of the Holy Spirit in the home.
We should "electrify" our homes, to have the energy of the Holy Spirit in them, with holy icons, oil lamps, holy water, incense and our prayers.

In a home where there is blasphemies and yelling, it is natural that it will have an energy opposite to that of the energy of the Holy Spirit.

The Defaced Fresco of the Baptism of Christ at Gracanica Monastery

In the hardships that befell Gracanica Monastery and other monuments following the first attacks of the Turks, the original outer narthex with its entire fresco decoration was devastated, and subsequently, after its restoration, a greater part of the frescoes dating from a later time were destroyed as well. Several representations have survived in it, of which the depiction of the Second Ecumenical Synod and the illustration of the poem "In the grave bodily..." are especially interesting in thematic terms. The Baptism of Christ in the southern portion of the east wall, however, is the most telling example of the character of the style: of a very complex iconographic pattern, it features the troubled and wide course of the Jordan River cutting across the scene, and several episodes accompanying the event. Superbly painted and of glowing harmonies of colors, almost all the figures of the participants and the antique personifications have, unfortunately, lost their facial features, so that opinions concerning the exact date of their creation differ considerably. In all probability, they can be dated to the second quarter of the 16th century, during the time of the educated and energetic Metropolitan of Gracanica Nikanor who took an active part in spiritual life, renovated the library which had burned down, and even established a printing press in the monastery. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

What Does the Honorable Forerunner Teach Us? (Archim. George Kapsanis)

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

(Delivered in 1991)

The message of Saint John the Baptist in the wilderness of the Jordan can be summed up in the phrase: "Repent; the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). Christ was the Kingdom of Heaven, because Christ was the Son of God, who would inaugurate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, which is the Kingdom of Heaven. For where the Holy Spirit is, there is also the Kingdom of Heaven. But Christ and the Holy Spirit cannot be received by someone without repentance. Repentance is the necessary condition for receiving Jesus Christ as the God-man and receiving the Grace of the Holy Spirit. As long as man lives unrepentant, hardened in his selfishness, in his self-reliance, in his self-love and in his passions, he can neither receive Christ as the God-man nor the Grace of the Holy Spirit. That is why the Holy Forerunner, in order to open people's hearts and accept Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, taught "repent".

Homily on the Synaxis of the Honorable Forerunner (Archim. George Kapsanis)

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

The Twelve Days [after Christmas] have already come to a close with the Synaxis of the Church in honor of the Honorable Prophet and Forerunner, the leader of the monastic order. All the figures of the Church are beloved by monks, but especially those who practiced the path of the monastic life, and the Honorable Forerunner is the foremost among them. He despised the world, all the good things of the world, and withdrew early on into the wilderness, longing for God. And he was found worthy to become the Forerunner and Baptist of the Savior Christ. Christ was the center of his life.

The Distressed Horse and the Sanctified Water

St. Aphrahat the Persian
By Theodoret of Cyrus

A certain horse of good breed and trained to be an excellent mount was particularly dear to the emperor [Valens]. To the great distress of the emperor it caught a disease: its secretion of urine was blocked. Those trained in the skill were summoned to tend it; but to the distress of the emperor and the grief of the man entrusted with the care of the horses, their skill was defeated. Being pious and strong in faith, he repaired at midday to the dwelling of the great Aphrahat [the Persian]. After mentioning the disease and declaring his faith, he besought him to dispel the complaint by prayer. Without delaying for a moment but instantly beseeching God, he ordered water to be drawn from the well, and making on this the sign of the cross of salvation gave instructions for it to be given to the horse, which, contrary to its habit, drank it. Then consecrating oil by the invocation of the divine blessing, he anointed the horse's belly: at the touch of his hand the disease immediately departed and at once natural secretion took place. In great joy the man took the horse and ran back to the stable. In the evening the emperor, who was in the habit of visiting the stable at this time, came and asked how the horse was. When the man told of his good health and led the horse out, vigorous, prancing, neighing, and holding his neck up proudly, he inquired after the cause of health. After evading reply several times - for he feared to indicate the doctor, knowing the enmity of the questioner - he was finally forced to tell the truth and told of the manner of cure. The emperor was astonished and agreed that the man was remarkable. However, he was not freed of his earlier madness, but persisted in raging against the Only-begotten until he became a casualty of a fire lit by barbarians and did not even receive a burial like servants or beggars.

From A History of the Monks of Syria.

The Poisonous Viper and the Sanctified Water

St. Dorotheos of Thebes

By Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis

One day, towards the ninth hour, Dorotheos [of Thebes] sent me to the fountain from which he drank water to fetch him some water, so that he might eat his meal, for he used to eat about this time, and when I had gone there I chanced to see a viper going down the well; and because of my fear I was unable to fill the pitcher with water, and I went back to him, and said unto him, “O father, we shall die, for I have seen a viper going down into the water.” Now when he heard these words he laughed reverently, and constrained himself, and he lifted up his face and looked at me not for a little time, and he shook his head, and said unto me, “If it were to happen that Satan had the power to show you in every fountain an asp, or again to cast into them vipers, or serpents, or tortoises, or any other kinds of venomous reptiles, would you be able to do without drinking water entirely?” And when he had said these words unto me, he went forth and departed to the fountain and drew water, and brought it back, and having made the sign of the Cross over it he straightway drank therefrom before he ate anything. And he constrained me to drink and said unto me, “Where the seal of the Cross is, the wickedness of Satan hath no power to do harm.”

From The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Ch. 2.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Homily for the Feast of Theophany (Archim. George Kapsanis)


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

(Delivered in the Refectory of the Monastery in 1989)

Like all Despotic feasts, today's feast has a Trinitarian, Christological, anthropological character and concerns the whole creation.

Trinitarian, because the Holy Trinity appeared very clearly, that is, the three Persons, as clearly as they had never been seen before, and therefore those who were there and those who ministered - mainly the Honorable Forerunner - knew the Trinity of God. And through them all of us. Because they handed this down to us, and we, as if we were eyewitnesses, believe in what was then manifested and revealed. That is why we were chanting yesterday "The Trinity was made manifest at the Jordan", at the Jordan and also to us.

Six Epiphany Sermons by St. Maximus of Turin

On Holy Epiphany

1. It is possible to understand what thanks we owe to the Lord Christ because He piles up good things on good things and multiplies our joys by more joys. Until now, see, we have been exulting in the newborn Savior, and now we rejoice in Him as one reborn. The festival of His birth is not yet at an end and already the solemnity of His baptism is to be celebrated. He has hardly been born to us and already He is reborn in the sacraments. For today—although many years have passed—He was consecrated in the Jordan. The Lord has disposed of affairs in such a way, then, as to join good things to good things, so that at one and the same time He would be brought forth by a virgin and be born by a mystery, and the feasts of the births of the flesh and of baptism would be joined, so that just as we marveled then at His conception from an unsullied virgin, now we might raise our thoughts to Him who has gone down into the pure waters. Thus we shall glory in each deed—that a mother begot a son (and she is chaste) and that water cleansed Christ (and it is holy). Just as after childbirth Mary’s chastity was glorified, so after this baptism the cleansing of the water was verified, except that the water was endowed with something greater than Mary was. For she merited chastity for herself alone, while it also conferred holiness on us; she merited not to sin, while it merited to purge away sins; she cast from herself her own sins, while it remits the sins of others in itself; upon her virginity was conferred, while upon it fruitfulness was bestowed; she gave birth to one (and she is pure), while it brings forth many (and it is a virgin); apart from Christ she knows no son, while with Christ it is the mother of nations.

Homily on the Theophany of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

The Gospel reading for Theophany contains words of Christ that are of great importance. To this now I want to turn your attention for a bit.

This great event of the Lord's Theophany is preceded by a sermon on the banks of the Jordan River, by John, the Forerunner of the Lord, the greatest among men ever born by a woman. His fiery sermon of repentance, for which he had been preparing for twenty years, in the city of Judah drew to him a great many people. The fiery words of his sermon burned the hearts of the people he baptized in the waters of Jordan thus cleansing them of their sins.

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