Friday, December 31, 2021

The Best of December 2021 by the Mystagogy Resource Center (MRC)

        

Below is the monthly review for the month of December 2021 of the ten most popular articles on johnsanidopoulos.com, then all the posts made on the other websites of the Mystagogy Resource Center in order of popularity.

The Extreme Humility of the Incarnation of the Lord (Archimandrite George Kapasanis)


By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

With the Panagia Theotokos, Saint Joseph the Betrothed, the angels, the shepherds and the Magi from the east, we worship, thank, praise and glorify our incarnate Lord, who for our salvation was born in the cave, lay in the manger and was baptized in the Jordan.

His extreme humility is not only seen in His death on the Cross, but also in His Nativity in the cave of Bethlehem and His Baptism in the Jordan River.

With this humility He defeated the devil, who thought that with his pride he would reign in the world.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

On the Death of Children and the Slaughter of the Innocents (St. Paisios the Athonite)


"Having in mind that God will reward in Heaven whoever goes through trials and knowing what awaits them in the next life, this makes them able to 'endure' the pain.

Herod allowed so many crimes to be committed. He slaughtered fourteen thousand infants and how many parents, who did not let the soldiers kill their children, killed them too! The barbarian
soldiers, in order to look better to their leaders, cut the children into pieces.

Why Did Christ at His Birth Allow Infants to be Slaughtered Because of Him? (St. Photios the Great)


By Saint Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople

(Amphilochia, Question 26)

Why did Christ at His birth allow infants to be slaughtered because of Him?

Your bewilderment is beautiful and compassionate, and perhaps the answer will be no worse, but even with a softer judgment. It was necessary for Herod's villainy to become clear and obvious to everyone, and therefore, if he showed it to people who had reached the age of maturity, then nothing would prevent the tribe of flatterers and henchmen from inventing some reasons that would make a criminal murder look more acceptable, and killed by the perpetrators of considerable evils, saying that it was not proper for the king to leave crimes unpunished. When applied to infants, even the most shameless lie can neither conceive nor invent anything like that, and in all things open and unreasonable misanthropy and unsurpassed villainy of the mind, language, and hand are exposed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

How the Icon of the Panagia of the Nile Got Its Name

 
By Ioannis Fourtounas
 
Among the many miraculous icons of the Panagia, there is an unknown icon of her, located in Egypt and named the Panagia of the Nile.

The icon is kept in the Sacred Patriarchal and God-trodden Monastery of Saint George in Old Cairo and has been stored in the Cave that hosted our Panagia and the Divine Infant.

When Herod persecuted the Most Holy Theotokos, Joseph the Betrothed and the Divine Infant, together with James the son of Joseph, they fled to Egypt at the angel's command.

Holy Hieromartyr Alexander Tsitseronov, Known as Cicero (+ 1938)

St. Alexander Tsitseronov (Feast Day - December 28)

Alexander Tsitseronov was born on August 15, 1893 in the village of Popadyino, of the Mikhailovsky district, in the Ryazan province, into the family of Deacon Alexander Andreyevich Tsitseronov and his wife Alexandra Petrovna. Three out of ten children of the Deacon became priests, and three daughters married future priests.

At twenty-one, Alexander Tsitseronov graduated from the Ryazan Theological Seminary. During his studies, he met a graduate of the Ryazan Women's Diocesan School, Evgenia Ivanovna Ivankova, the daughter of Archpriest John Pavlovich Ivankov, who blessed the young couple for marriage. Alexander was first a Reader in the church of the village of Pecherniki, of the Mikhailovsky district. Then he was ordained a Deacon and later a Priest, and in 1914 he was assigned to a parish in the village of Polivanovo. In 1915, the couple went to their destination. In addition to Polivanovo, the parish included the villages of Tarakanovka, Savinka, Studenets, Letniki, Bolshaya Khlebenka.

Saint Simon the Myrrhgusher Resource Page

Saint Simon the Myrrhgusher and his Spiritual Father

St. Simon comes to the Holy Mountain in search of an elder.

We know nothing of the life of Saint Simon the Myrrhgusher before he came to Mount Athos in search of a virtuous elder to whom he could devote his complete obedience, without which no monk can hope to attain salvation. His desire was to find a virtuous man that had the ability to guide him to live a life pleasing to God, but who was also strict in order to subject his flesh to the spirit. After finding what he was looking for, he placed himself under obedience as though his elder was God Himself.

Parable of the Destitute Child


Parable of the Destitute Child
 
On the street, a man saw a naked child.
He was hungry and shivered from the cold.

The man got angry and turned to God:
"Why do you allow this? Why are you not doing anything?"

In response, he heard:
"I did do something: I sent you ...."
 
 

Monday, December 27, 2021

2021 Pastoral Encyclical for Christmas (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Beloved children in the Lord,

The celebration of the Nativity of Christ gives me the opportunity to communicate with you and to wish you well and rejoice with you, while referring to the great theology of the celebration of Christmas.

I feel that many people, and especially those who are psychologically sensitive, in times of difficult situations in society due to social instability, divisions and upheavals, due to physical and mental illnesses, due to various delusions, resort to reading a serious poem in order to find an inner balance and a different meaning of life.

The 10th Century Church of Saint Stephen the Protomartyr in Ramovouni of Messenia


The Church of Saint Stephen is located in Ramovouni, near Vasiliko of Messenia, and dates back to the 10th-11th century.

Initially it was a single-aisled wooden roof structure, with internal dimensions of 2.67x5.35 meters. From the tiled decoration of the monument nothing else was saved, except for 2 small sections of serrated strips.

Homily on the Holy Protomartyr Stephen (Ps. Chrysostom)


This is the second of three homilies ascribed to St. John Chrysostom delivered on behalf of the Holy Protomartyr Stephen. In fact, the first of the three appears to be Nestorian in origin, the last of the three may be ascribed to Saint Proclus of Constantinople, while this second homily is anonymous.

1. The outsiders, who want to plait wreaths for men, hasten to gather roses, lilies, and the rest of the earth’s flowers. For thus is the custom of the earthly plaiters of wreaths. But we who are  preparing a wreath for the blessed Stephen – let us harvest the spiritual flowers from Stephen himself so that we may plait a crown of graces for Stephen’s head.

2. For blessed Stephen is a meadow, full of every fragrance, watered with the blood of Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit, and perfuming everything. For you look at the memory of Stephen and everything is filled with holiness: heaven which received his spirit, the earth which welcomed his body, the air at the same time, and all things are filled with the fragrance of his perfume. And we have him interceding on our behalf, the ornament of the Church, the champion of godliness, the disciple of Christ, the reproof of the Jews, the chief of the martyrs, the benefactor of the widows, the nourisher of the hungry, the helper of the oppressed, the protector of the holy city of Christ, the crown of the good deacons, the pillar of the Church, the splendor of the martyrs, the boast of the world, the foundation of faith; the guardian of our souls, the one who prays for those who are persecuted and defends those who are stoned, and for this reason his face was glorified with angelic grace. For all, it is said, who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). Let us now crown the champion Stephen, the first champion of Christ, and let us sprinkle him with the flowers of words. So then, he was the adornment of the choir of the apostles, and imparted godliness to the disciples. He won over all people with his gentleness, and he had an exceptional love of humanity, and he was stung not so much by his own labors as by those of strangers, and he considered the need of his neighbor to be his own, and he attended to another’s malady as he would his. This took place in the first proclamations of the word, when faith bloomed abundantly, and the rich immediately lay aside the burden of money, the needy received that which was lacking.

3. In this way Stephen was a steward of beautiful harmony and order, and poverty had this man as benefactor and ally whereas wealth had him as guide. The power of the Spirit rested upon him, and grace had the man as its own house. Therefore, beloved, let us also, with the  protomartyr Stephen, celebrate the one who bestows the crowns, the holy and consubstantial Trinity, because to Him belongs the glory, now and always and into the ages of ages. Amen.
 
 
 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Homily on the Second Day of Christmas (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on December 26, 1951/January 8, 1952)

Holy and blessed night descended over Bethlehem, blessed Bethlehem. The night was like all nights: all the inhabitants of Bethlehem and all the multitude of people who came to the census slept in a peaceful sleep. The shepherds of Bethlehem dozed off by their sleeping flocks: the stars of heaven twinkled with a quiet light - as always, but meanwhile there has never been such a night and never will be from the creation of the world, for on this night in the manger, in the cattle corral, the Most Pure Virgin Mary gave birth to the eternal Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

First Homily on the Second Day of the Nativity of the Lord (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

On the second day of the Nativity of Christ, the voice in Ramah is heard, mourning and a great weeping: Rachel weeps for her children and does not want to be comforted, for they are no more (Matthew 2:18).

Do not weep, do not lament, do not grieve much when people offend you, oppress you, take away your happiness, deprive you of your peace of mind. They will not take God away from you, and they will not deprive you of eternal salvation. On the contrary, for the fact that people take away your happiness in this life, the Lord will reward you with blessedness after death; and for your temporary anxiety here, which you endure from others, will reward you with eternal peace there.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Homily on the Nativity of Christ (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1953)

What are we celebrating on this great day? What happened one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three years ago? A small sprout emerged from the land of the holy blessed womb of the Most Pure Virgin Mary. He descended on the God-sanctified land of Palestine and took root in it. An extraordinary vine has grown from it.

And it was necessary that 30 years passed until it rose in all its might, and wonderful bunches grew on its branches, giving all peoples their juice to drink.

This was possible only because our Heavenly Father Himself was the grower of this Vine.

First Homily for the Day of the Nativity of Christ (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"For this reason, God will descend to the earth, 
so He will lead us to Heaven" 
(From the Akathist to the Sweetest Jesus, kontakion 8).

Many of us today are not as happy as we should be; and this, of course, is due to the fact that we do not know well or forget the real reason for the present joy. And therefore, listeners, let us talk about why we should rejoice this day.

Today, the Holy Church recalls the time when Jesus Christ, the Son of God, descended from Heaven and became incarnate from the Most Holy Virgin Mary. But why did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come down from Heaven? Yes, in order to elevate us to Heaven. Therefore, this is the main reason for our present joy: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came down from Heaven in order to lead us to Heaven.

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Christmas Eve Miracle of Elder Eumenios Lampakis


By Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias,  
Great Hymnographer of the Church of Alexanria

In the Cretan village of Myriokephalos there is a Monastery that has the miraculous icon of Panagia Myriokephalitissa. This icon is said to be one of the seventy that the Apostle Luke had made. The Monastery was a Metochion of the Monastery of the Prophet Elias and every month a hieromonk went there from the sovereign Monastery, to serve not only the monastics there, but also the whole village.

One year, as Christmas was approaching, it was the turn of Father Eumenios to go to the Metochion and with holy remembrance he once recounted to Father Spyridon:

The Unconditionality of the Divine Incarnation

 
 By Archimandrite Hierotheos Vlachos,
Youth Director of the Archdiocese of Athens
(now Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou)

The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God effects the deification of man. The Holy Fathers emphasize the truth that God became man in order to make man God. Only through the Incarnate Son and Word of God can one attain to deification.

There is a debate among contemporary theologians about the unconditionality or conditionality of the Incarnation; that is, whether the Incarnation presupposes the Fall of Adam or does not presuppose it, which means that it would have happened independently of the Fall of man. This debate goes on because there are certain passages of the Holy Fathers of the Church that bear on the issue.

Homily for the Eve of the Nativity of Christ (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 
 
 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

The present day is par excellence the day of preparation for tomorrow's festival. Therefore, we will talk about preparation.

Pious listener! If tomorrow you had the birthday of some important person to you, or a beloved person to you, or your benefactor, or your father or mother, then you, no doubt, would have thought of it in advance, took care of how to congratulate this person better tomorrow, how to say something to them and do something pleasant for them, and especially I would think a lot about it and give care today. This always happens with all reasonable people, noble and grateful.

The Incarnation (Panagiotis Chrestou)


By Panagiotis Chrestou
 
The Incarnation is a paradox and, in a way, an antinomian process which transfers the Creator to the position of the creature. The Incarnation creates, according to human data and standards, an unexpected adaptation of the archetype to the antitype. This is a reversal of the regular course of affairs, but is a necessity because of the antitype’s inability to adapt to the archetype, as demanded by his destiny. By an inconceivable process, this movement transfers the eternal to the sphere of time and eliminates the temporal, that is, it really abolishes the restrictions of time and space. And this is the greatest mystery – the greatest miracle in the history of the world. The fact that God created the world is within the boundaries of the comprehensible. The fact that fire goes upward is within the boundaries of the natural, but if it went downward, like the heavy bodies, this would be unnatural and incomprehensible. Therefore, the fact that the divine presence directs itself downward, deigning to become like that which lives there (without being transposed, of course), is the most incomprehensible event and, also, the greatest manifestation of power. How can that which is sublime be manifested within that which is lowly without losing its grandeur? Gregory of Nyssa asked: "How is the sublime seen in the lowly and, yet, does not descend from its height? How can the Deity, entwined as it is with the nature of man, become this and still be that."
 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Plagiarism of the Date of Christmas


This presentation does not claim any originality. It is based for the most part on the dissertation of Steven Hijmans, which was written about twenty years ago and reissued in 2009, titled Sol: The Sun in the Art and Religions of Rome, having been further edited.

The Christian apologetic against the accusations of plagiarism of the date of Christmas (December 25) from the feast of the Sun or Sol Invictus, became more widely known after the publication of Hermann Usener's work, Das Weinachtfest (Bonn 1889), second edition. In this work Usener claimed that the transfer of the date of the Christmas feast to December 25 from January 6 was done for reasons of competition, i.e. to stop the ancient world from celebrating the corresponding pagan holiday and preferring to celebrate the birth of Christ. This excuse does not exist in any Christian apologist or Father of the Church, but is first encountered in Jacob Bar-Salibi,[1] a Syriac bishop of the 12th century, and to be more precise, it comes from an anonymous comment on the margins of a manuscript of his work, written by a different hand, published by Assemani in the Bibliotheca Orientalis II, Rome in 1721.[2] From there it was received by Paul Ernst Jablonski (1757)[3] and the Dutchman Jean Hardouin (1729) and they linked the choice of date with the feast of "sol invictus".[4]

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"When I Went to the Cave of Bethlehem, My Heart Broke There" (St. Ephraim of Katounakia)


By Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol

I remember the Elder, Saint Ephraim Katounakiotis, saying:

"I was moved everywhere in the Holy Land, but when I went to the Cave of Bethlehem, my heart broke there! It became a thousand pieces! And I said: how was God born in this place, in this cave, without consolation, cast out, outside of the city? This God, who could have done anything for Himself, and yet silently, away from all worldliness, in one night, the coldest night of the year, the longest night of the year, in a completely despised space, the One who created everything - heaven and earth - He was born in that space!

The Reaction of an Old Ascetic of Mount Athos Upon First Seeing Christmas Lights in Thessaloniki


 By Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol

When I was younger I was very skeptical about the way the Holy Days of Christmas are celebrated. And I can say that I criticized these things with the inexperience that characterized me. I said these are secular, they are not needed, why do they exist, they offer nothing, they lose the spiritual meaning, and everything else that is said that we often hear.

So once I accompanied an old man from Mount Athos because he needed to see a doctor. And because Christmas is celebrated on Mount Athos later on another date due to the Old Calendar, we happened to be in Thessaloniki on Christmas day. Thessaloniki, as in other cities, on the main streets of Egnatia, Tsimiski and others are filled with thousands of lamps, lights that adorn the streets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Winter Solstice


Many may not be aware that the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was built to be aligned along the sunrise on winter solstice. The same is true for the Church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, which was modeled after that in Constantinople in the 8th century.

Hagia Sophia was therefore designed so that once a year, the first light of dawn after the longest night of winter, that is, on December 21st, enters the sacred temple, symbolizing in this way the birth Christ. Therefore, every year can be witnessed the rays of the sun piercing through the small window above the entrance of Hagia Sophia.

Homily on the Holy and Dread Mysteries of Christ (St. Gregory Palamas - Delivered Four Days Before Christmas)


 Homily Fifty-Six

On the Holy and Dread Mysteries of Christ

By Saint Gregory Palamas

(Delivered Four Days Before Christmas)

1. The word which brings about the salvation of our souls is analogous to seed. Just as farmers first cultivate the earth with the plough, then sow seed, so must we prepare ourselves beforehand to accept the heavenly seed, by which I mean the word of spiritual teaching. But we are not inanimate, unfeeling earth which is cultivated and sown by others, but living, breathing, rational ground. For that reason we must make ourselves ready by means of repentance. To give you an indication of the starting point of repentance and the cultivation of the soul, it is what those who approached John`s baptism did one their own initiative: "They went out”, it says, "and were baptized in Jordan, confessing their sins” (cf. Matt. 3:5-6; Mark 1:5).

Monday, December 20, 2021

Testimony of a Man That Was Healed of Blindness by Saint John of Kronstadt


In 1890, we lived in Shuvalov Park, a few kilometers from Petrograd on the railway to Finland. I was 6 years old at the time. In May, I was returning by train from the city, and on that occasion, through the window of the wagon, sparks from the locomotive flew into my right eye, after which a terrible burning occurred. The doctors tried diligently to save my sight, but in vain. There was complete blindness. I still remember being tortured with powerful lamps - projectors, which examined the inside of the eye. Because of the nerve connection, I also lost my left eye. The doctors decided to perform an operation and separate the uninjured left eye from the right one, thus saving the sight of this eye. With a bandage on the eyes, they drove me in a carriage.

Saint John of Kronstadt as a Wonderworker of our Days (St. Justin Popovich)

 
By Archimandrite Justin Popovich
 
Here is another Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker: by the power of faith, by the power of prayer, by the power of love, by the power of mercy, by the power of all the holy evangelical virtues, and therefore by the power of miracles. Yes, the same almighty Lord Christ is in Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker and in Saint John the Wonderworker of Kronstadt. The gospel is eternally true in both: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). He is the same, the All-Miraculous Savior, and His Saints are the same: Righteous, because He - the All-Loving - lives and works in all of them and through all of them at all times, even in our time. And Saint John of Kronstadt is, so to speak, our contemporary, he passed away on December 20, 1908. The Holy Father is righteous and entirely a Christ-bearer, He lives as an apostolic saint and works and performs miracles. His faith - apostolic, holy, strong and omnipotent - worked apostolic miracles. He passed through the vast land of Russia, performing countless and inexpressible miracles. People from all over Russia turned to him for help, for healing, for advice. He often did not have time to read countless telegrams, letters, requests, which were addressed to him for help. He blessed them at the holy proskomide, praying to the Lord to fulfill the prayers of the supplicants; and through his prayers there are healings throughout the vast land of Russia. This is what the Holy Word of God is about. There is no doubt, his help from heaven is needed by all of us people who live in this lost paradise called the earth.
 
Source: Lives of the Saints. Translated by John Sanidopoulos. 


The Passion of the Holy Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer (St. Justin Popovich)

 
By Archimandrite Justin Popovich
 
At the time when Trajan ascended the Roman throne,[1] Bishop Ignatius, who was the God-bearer in name and in reality, was in the Church of Antioch, having received the episcopal throne after Saint Evodius, the successor of Saint Peter the Apostle.[2]

It is said about this divine Ignatius the God-bearer that while he was still a child, and the Lord Jesus Christ lived on earth among the people and taught the people about the Kingdom of God, once Ignatius' parents with the child Ignatius stood among the people and listened to the divine words from the Savior's mouth. Looking at them, the Lord called the child Ignatius to Himself, placed him in the midst of the people, embraced him, and took him in His arms and said: "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3, 5).

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Unction (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 
 The Mystery of Unction

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

One of the ways in which the Grace of God transforms people, my beloved brethren, is the mystery of Unction, which is celebrated every Great Wednesday in the sacred church as the best preparation for the Divine Communion of Great Thursday - which is an important day because then the Secret Supper was given - but it is also performed whenever the believer wishes. For this reason the Christian sometimes invites the priest to his house. It is a sacramental act that shows the love of the Church for man.

Saint Sebastian and the Arrows of the Plague

 


A Unique Manger Scene in a Cave of Meteora


Kalambaka has a long tradition with their mangers, as in the past they had set up another special manger in the center of the square with life-size figures of people and animals. Beginning in 2019, however, the idea was to make a Manger scene in a cave of Meteora, that could be seen by all, and this unique feature has become an annual tradition since, with enthusiastic results.

Friday, December 17, 2021

The Miracle of the Kalimavkion of Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos


When you see an icon of Saint Dionysios of Zakynthos, you will notice that although he was a Bishop who is wearing episcopal vestments, on his head he does not wear the traditional mitre that Bishops wear, but instead he wears the monastic kalimavkion and epanokalimavkion (black cylindrical hat with a black veil).

If you visit the relic of Saint Dionysios in his church in Zakynthos, you will see the same thing; he was not buried with a mitre, but he is wearing the epanokalimavkion.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

In Memory of Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos (1941-2021)

Metr. Hierotheos, Metr. Jeremiah and Fr. Arsenios Kombougias at the enthronement of Metropolitan Jeremiah.

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The repose of the late Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopolis caused me great sorrow, because we lack his earthly presence among us, but also joy, because he left the Church on earth and went to the Church in heaven, which he longed for and for which he lived and conducted himself.

In the last few years, his health was considered failing, but he, being noble, tried not to reveal it.

We have known each other for many years, I have known him since he was a deacon and preacher and from time to time we communicated, at first somewhat sparingly and then more often, especially since I came as Metropolitan to his birthplace, Nafpaktos.

I will write some of my first impressions of the late Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos.

Saint Theophano the Empress and the Founding of the Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria in Thessaloniki


According to tradition, the Chapel of the Dormition of the Theotokos pre-existed the Sacred Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria, having been established in 803 AD, and a brotherhood of monks lived in monasticism in the historic chapel of the Panagia who especially honored Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria. The Chapel of the Dormition was built within the Royal Estate of Empress Theophano Augusta, wife of Emperor Leo VI the Wise.

Theophano lived in Byzantium with her husband Leo VI the Wise during the reign of Emperor Basil the Macedonian (867-886). A misunderstanding between her father-in-law and her husband resulted in Emperor Basil the Macedonian ordering the exile of Theophano and her husband Leo VI the Wise to the Royal Estates, a dowry of Theophano which was the area where the Monastery of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria is now built, in Vasilika of Thessaloniki.

Saint Theophano the Empress Resource Page

St. Theophano the Empress (Feast Day - December 16)

Verses

Coming near to the Lord, Empress Theophano,
Your virtues remained polished.
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Saint Eleutherios, Patron Saint of Pregnant Women


You granted pregnant women freedom who had come to your temple, Father, and helped them to deliver their children with ease; and to those who entreated you intently, you granted smooth sailing. Even now you dispense good health to those who are sick, being renowned for your miracles.

We chant this hymn during Vespers on the feast of Saint Eleutherios on December 15th. The name Eleutherios means "one who is free" or "one who gives freedom", and is therefore the patron saint of those who seek to be free of something, whether it be free from prison, free from oppression, or free from disease.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Katerina Derba, an Ascetic of the World (3 of 3)


...continued from part two.

Counsels

Eldress Katerina used to say: “A waterfall of Grace and blessing falls from the heaven every morning. God pours, but people sleep. No one is interested in turning to look at how much God loves us, and so the Angels take Grace back."

She said to a well-known young clergyman: "You have one good thing. They call you in the morning, and you're all in the mood. They call you at noon, you never say 'I'm eating'. They call you at night, you never say 'I'm sleeping'. Hold on to this for the rest of your life for all people. Never be busy with yourself. Always be at the disposal of others. This is a great good, I hope God helps you to keep it throughout your life."

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of Repentance (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Mystery of Repentance

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

With Holy Baptism, my beloved brethren, as we saw in another sermon, the image of God in man is purified, man is restored to his former position and ascended even higher, he is united with the second Adam, Christ, and can attain deification. But because human nature has the ability to change its will and even because the devil fights man out of envy, that is why he falls into sin. Thus, our Church has established the mystery of repentance, which is also called a second baptism, because through it man is reborn.

Explanations and Clarifications of Ecclesiastical History and the Deontology of the Ukrainian Issue (Part 13)


...continued from part twelve.

* Only the fact of the mutual kiss between Onufry and Epiphanius, and the smiles from both sides, on an official Ukrainian national holiday, shows that direct channels of communication and mutual communion are maintained. I do not know to what extent the two current local Churches communicate. However, I was surprised by this obvious indication of communion.

Ecclesiastical History has a number of strange examples that are not compatible with the canonicity of the Apostolic Tradition and the Apostolic Succession. They are well known, but it is worth listing a few.

"I Always Have a Small Icon of the Panagia Underneath My Pillow" (St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva)


I always have a small icon of the Panagia underneath my pillow. I take it out at night and kiss it with affection, and in the morning I kiss it again with even greater affection. And I entreat her to cover me, saying the hymn we all know: "I place all my hope in you, Mother of God, keep me under your covering."

- St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva
 
 

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Geese in a Blizzard: A Russian Christmas Parable


There was a man who did not believe in God and did not hesitate to tell everyone about his attitude to religion and religious holidays. However, his wife believed in God and raised her children in the faith, despite her husband's caustic attacks.

One winter evening, the wife went with the children to the service at the local village church. There should have been a sermon on the Nativity of Christ. The wife asked her husband to go with them, but he refused. “This whole story is nonsense!" - he said - "Why did God suddenly need to humiliate Himself and appear on Earth in the form of a man? This is ridiculous!"

Homilies on the Holy Mysteries - The Mystery of the Priesthood (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


The Mystery of the Priesthood

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The mystery of the Priesthood, my beloved brethren, is the sacred ceremony through which special Grace is transmitted to some people to become Clergy in the Church, who are the ministers of the people for their salvation.

The Priesthood is divided into three degrees, that is, there is the Bishop who is in the type and place of Christ, there is the Presbyter, who is sent by the Bishops, as the Apostles were sent by Christ, and there is the Deacon, who helps the Bishops and the Presbyters in the performance of the Mysteries. All these three degrees have a special mission and special work within the Church. According to Saint Dionysius the Areopagite and others after him, such as Saint Maximus the Confessor, Saint Niketas Stethatos and Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, the work of the Deacon is to help people purify their hearts from the passions, the work of the Presbyter is to help people illumine their nous, and the work of the Bishop, along with the above, is to lead people to deification.

Cave Church of Saint Spyridon in Rethymnon


On the west side of the imposing Venetian castle of Fortezza in Rethymno, Crete and above the sea is the Cave Church of Saint Spyridon. The church dates back to the late 16th century and is one of the oldest surviving churches in the city of Rethymnon. There are stairs from the main road to the church and inside there is a wood-carved iconostasis.

Saint Spyridon in Zaros: a Vision, a Chapel and a Baptism


There is an absence of churches dedicated to Saint Spyridon in southern Crete, which is why the chapel in his name in the area of Mega Livadi in the village of Zaros of the municipality Faistos we expected to have a special history and a special reason it was built in Pano Riza.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

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

 

 Eleventh Sunday of Luke

Luke 14:16-24

By St. Theophan the Recluse

"Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14). All Christians are called; chosen are those Christians who believe and live in a Christian manner. In the early Christian times preaching called to faith; we are called by our birth from Christians and upbringing among Christians. And glory be to God! We pass half the road, that is, entrance into Christianity and the taking root of its principles in our heart from our very childhood, without any labor. It would seem that our faith should be all the stronger, and our life all the more correct throughout all the time that follows. It was this way; but from a certain point in time it has started to be different. Unchristian principles are permitted in our schools which ruin young people, and unchristian customs have entered into society, which corrupt them after leaving school. If according to the word of God there always have been only a few chosen, it is no surprise that in our time there are even fewer of them; such is the spirit of the age — anti-Christian! What will be next? If our manner of education and social customs are not changed, true Christianity will weaken more and more, and at last will entirely end; only the name of Christian will remain, but the spirit of Christianity will not be there. The spirit of the world will fill everything. What is one to do? Pray…
 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

On Vain Disputations and Questionings in the Church of Christ (St. Daniel the Stylite)


In chapter 90 of the Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite, we read:
 
Through the Devil's working a tumult once arose in the most holy churches, for tares had sprung up from vain disputations and questionings, so that some of the monks, who were renowned for good living, through their simple-mindedness and through their failure to consider the matter with precision, left the most Holy Church and separated themselves from the holy fellowship and liturgy. 
 
These mischief-makers came to the holy man and tried to confound him with similar arguments, but he who kept the foundation of the holy faith unmovable and unshakable answered them saying:
 

Friday, December 10, 2021

The Elements of Foolishness for Christ in the Sinaite Monk Fr. Ioannis Aleiferis


 By John Fourtounas,
Professor of the University of Cairo

On November 29th, 40 days have passed since the death of Fr. Ioannis Aleiferis, a monk of the Sacred Monastery of Saint Katherine of Mount Sinai.

Originally from Vatika of Laconia, Fr. Ioannis Aleiferis became a monk in the Monastery of Sinai and served the brotherhood there as an ecclesiarch for many years.

The most important gift he acquired was foolishness for Christ, which he preserved as the apple of his eye appearing to people as insane.

"In Order to Get Married You Have to Believe in Three Things" (Elder Ambrose Lazaris)


Elder Ambrose Lazaris (+ 2006) was asked by a spiritual child:

"Elder, I have a question about my life. Why didn't I get married?"

"My child, in order to get married you have to believe in three things:

1. You have to believe in the person you are going to marry,

2. You have to believe in marriage with that person,  

3. You have to believe in God.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Miraculous Icon of Saint Anna in Vori of Marmara


In the beautiful coastal Corinthian city of Aigio, a group of uprooted Greeks were transplanted in 1922 after the terrible Asia Minor Catastrophe.

The refugees in Aigio built, with effort and struggle, starting from scratch, their new life. The Aegean refugees came from Proikonisos, where there were then five villages: Aloni, Vori, Skoupia and Houchlia. Leaving while persecuted, the pious people of Proikonisos took with them above all the precious objects of their churches, holy icons, holy utensils, etc. Even their children show special love for these sacred relics.

The Underground Chapel of Saint Anna in Rhodope


There is a small underground chapel dedicated to Saint Anna between Xylagani and Maroneia in Rhodope of Northern Greece, in the middle of nowhere. Eugenia Katrani has given her own testimony about how she located the chapel:

"25-30 years ago, I worked at the Forest Service on the mountain. While I was sleeping I had a dream that I was entering a chapel, but it was like an furnace, because I was going down some stairs and the oil lamp was extinguished and I lit it. I saw the icon and I saw that it was of Saint Anna. I remembered in the dream that it was in the area of Maroneia; I saw nothing else.

The 11th Century Chapel of Saint Anna, known as "Panagiopoula", in Northern Epirus


At the foot of Mali i Gjerë, or Platyvouniou, at the exact location southwest of the Byzantine settlement of Koukoulia, there is a remarkable chapel dedicated to Saint Anna, the mother of the Theotokos.

A Byzantine structure unknown to many, dominates intact within the other ruins of the ancient Greek and later Byzantine village, since the beginning of the 11th century AD.

This particular Christian church was for many years - according to the testimonies of locals - the main church and the ossuary of this city. Its construction is different from the well-known Byzantine, with the direction of the sanctuary facing the South. There is also a small vault with porphyry and plinth above the interior door, which can be compared to relatively early Byzantine Christian monuments.

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