Thursday, February 25, 2021

Elder Simon Arvanitis and the Greek-American Woman Who Had Trouble Giving Birth

On the left is Monk Zosimas (+2010) with Elder Simon (+1988) on his deathbed blessing the child of a spiritual child of his.

By Monk Zosimas,
A Disciple of Elder Simon Arvanitis

A woman who lived in the United States, and who was a spiritual child of Elder Simon Arvanitis, was pregnant.

When the time came for her to give birth, the child was unable to come out, and she in her pain cried out to her Elder (who was in Greece at the time):

"Father Simon, Father Simon, I can't give birth! I'm suffering and in a lot of pain!"

Elder Eumenios Saridakis and the Tiger at the London Zoo

By Monk Simon

When Father Eumenios Saridakis with a group of his spiritual children visited the London Zoological Gardens, the Elder found himself to be in front of an Indian tiger, which was acting very wildly. It was jumping up and down behind the wire netting, roaring, and everyone stood back at a distance.

Orthodoxy is a Dramatic Mystery (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Churches, shrines, chapels, icons, candles, processions, priests, bells, monasteries, travelling preachers, every day's saints, fast seasons—everything is the repetition of the same idea, namely, that Christ is the ruler of life and we are His followers. Christ must be expressed everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Many Englishmen have remarked that the Bible is read very seldom in the home in Russia and Serbia. That is true. People read the Bible more in symbols, pictures and signs, in music and prayers, than in the Book. Our religion is not a book religion, not even a learned religion. It is a dramatic mystery. The Bible contains the words, but in this dramatic mystery there is something higher and deeper than words. Slav Christianity is something greater than the Bible. Looking at an icon, a Russian mujik perceives the Bible incarnated in a saint's life-drama. Mystery of sin, mystery of atonement, mystery of heroic suffering, mystery of the daily presence of Christ among us in holy wine, in holy bread, in holy water, in holy word, in holy deed, in every sanctified substance, even in matter as in spirit, mystery of communion of sins and of virtues—all are recorded once in the Bible, and all are recorded and repeated also in our daily life—that is what we call our Slav Orthodoxy. We take the mystic outlines of the Bible and do not care about the details. In those mystic outlines we put our daily life, with its details of sins and sufferings. We conceive the Christian religion neither so juristic as the Roman Catholics, nor so scientific as the Protestants, nor even so reasonable and practical as the Anglicans, but we conceive it rather as dramatic.

From the book The Religious Spirit of the Slavs, 1916.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Heart is at Fault


By Demetrios Panagopoulos (1916-1982),

In the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Publican beat his breast and not his head, as if he was saying: "My heart is at fault."

It is wrong, therefore, what many say: "My head is to blame."

Your head is not to blame. Your heart is to blame!

God does not dwell in people's brains, but in their hearts. However, when Christ does not dwell in the heart, the devil will dwell there, and will make the brains of people dizzy, and then people will do what they do.

The Half-Blind Old Monk and the Flowerless Rose Bush

Nikos Gabriel Pentzikes (1908-1993) is a well-known Greek painter who first visited Mount Athos in 1933, the first of his 94 visits throughout his life, and it was there that he learned to paint and changed his occupation from being a pharmacist to a painter. In his book Approaches to the Holy Mountain (Προσεγγίσεις στο Αγιον Ορος, 1952), he wrote the following:

Miracles in the Lives of a Pious Husband and Wife (From the Life of St. George Karslides)

In 1959 a husband and wife embarked on a pilgrimage from their village in Mikromilia to the Monastery of the Ascension in Sipsa, an eight hour journey, in order to visit Saint George Karslides. This couple had seven children and were expecting their eighth. On the way the wife was considering in her thoughts about not allowing the eighth child to live, feeling that she was unable to take care of another child. Very quickly however she banished this thought from her mind and repented.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Holy Scripture and the Church

Metropolitan Paul of Siatista (+ 2019) once met with a famous singer who was a Jehovah's Witness.

"What is the subject you want to talk about, sir?" asked the Metropolitan.

"But of course the Bible," the singer replied.

"And from where did you get the Bible for us to talk about?

"What do you mean, Father?"

On Saint Polycarp and his Martyrdom (Fr. George Florovsky)

By Fr. George Florovsky

St. Polycarp

St. Irenaeus tells us that he sat at the feet of St. Polycarp, that St. Polycarp had been personally acquainted with St. John, that St. Polycarp was consecrated bishop by the apostles — Tertullian claims by St. John —, that St. Polycarp was held in great esteem, and that he was the last witness of the Apostolic Age. That he was held in great esteem is attested by his visit to Rome to discuss ecclesiastical matters with Pope Anicetus, especially the problem of the date of celebration of Easter. It was in Rome where St. Polycarp apparently met Marcion. Marcion, it is claimed, asked St. Polycarp if he recognized him whereupon St. Polycarp is recorded as having replied: "I recognize you as the first-born of Satan."

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue (Fr. John Romanides) - Part 5 of 5

From an Orthodox point of view many aspects of Roman Catholic-Protestant differences are really divergent consequences of similar, sometimes identical, presuppositions. This means that on several key issues the Orthodox consider dialogue between Roman Catholics and Protestants really soliloquy which can become true dialogue only when the Orthodox are included.

Such three-way dialogue might help break down the thousand-year-old impasse between the Latin and Greek churches. Thus far two-way dialogue between those two groups has proved impossible because each has interpreted the other's theological language according to his own categories. For instance, the Greeks rejected the dogmatic formula of Filioque (that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father) because, according to their categories - which are those of the First (325) and the Second (381) Ecumenical Councils - it is sheer heresy. On the other hand, the Latins in a legalistic way accepted the decisions of those Greek councils as authority, but with little understanding of the categories dominating the lengthy debates which provided background. One calls to mind St. Augustine's complaint that he could not understand what the Greeks meant by distinguishing between essence and hypostasis in the Trinity (De Trinitate, v, 8, 10), and this happens to be one of the foundation stones of Greek Trinitarian theology. When difficulties arose about the Filioque the Latins, consistent with their trinitarian categories, insisted that it is a dogma of faith necessary for salvation. The seventh century Greek theologian St. Maximus the Confessor calmed Greek suspicions by translating the Filioque into Greek categories. The enthusiasm of later Frankish and Latin theologians led the West to claim that the Filioque is consistent with and implicit in the decisions of the early Greek Ecumenical Councils, even that it was taught by the early Greek Fathers. For a while the Latins accused the Greeks of having removed the Filioque from the Creed and thus having betrayed their own tradition. Eventually they repeated that accusation in regard to other aspects of doctrine on which differences exist - such as grace, merits, sacraments, purgatory, authority, ecclesiology, even piety. The practical effect of many centuries of such anti-Greek propaganda has been to create a Latin image of the Greek as a stubborn and tricky churchman who because of pride refuses to be faithful to his own tradition.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)

By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

As we said, the period of the Triodion includes first of all, as an arena of pre-preparation, the three weeks preceding Great Lent. The first week of the Triodion is the week that begins with the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. On this day our Church brings before us the relevant parable of our Lord, which speaks of the prayers made by the "righteous" Pharisee and the sinful Publican. The prayer of the first was not accepted by God, due to the pride of the Pharisee, while the prayer of the second was heard, due to the humility which was shown by the sinful Publican.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Pharisaic Righteousness and the Sigh of the Publican (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"The Pharisee having stood by himself ... And the Publican standing afar off" (Lk. 18:11-13).

The atmosphere of prayer is the most suitable to reveal the inner disposition of people. The spiritual condition of people appears at prayer, so it is not accidental that the Lord, in order to express the opposition between the Pharisee and the Publican, presented them at the time of prayer.

The Pharisee in the way he prayed showed that he lived a demonic spirituality, a twisted spiritual state, which was unredeemed. The Publican with the prayer: "God be propitious to me the sinner," showed his spiritual health, which is why he emerged justified. The more one seeks to justify oneself, the more one is cut off from redemption, while the more one ruthlessly flagellates oneself, considering oneself unworthy of divine mercy, the more one receives the divine Gift.

Sermon for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (Monk Agapios Landos)

 By Monk Agapios Landos of Crete

The Holy Fathers of the Church have commanded us to sing and read today about the case and parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, in order that we might prepare for the spiritual struggles and warfare of Holy Lent, which is approaching. This is why they called this week a ‘warning order’, because it forewarns and reminds us of the time of fasting and repentance which is almost upon us, so that we may prepare accordingly, to fight bravely and fairly, and not be defeated by any passion and lose the kingdom of heaven. Let each of us then examine which sin defeats us, so that we conquer it boldly in these holy days; so that we may shame the wicked devil, who fights day and night to defeat us, because he hates the human race.

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse
Yesterday the Gospel reading taught us persistence in prayer, and now it teaches humility, or a feeling of having no right to be heard. Do not assume that you have the right to be heard, but approach prayer as one unworthy of any attention, allowing yourself only the boldness needed to open your mouth and raise up your prayer to God, knowing the Lord’s boundless condescension toward us poor ones. Do not even allow the thought to come to your mind, “I did such and such—so give me such and such.” Consider whatever you might have done as your obligation. If you had not done it you would have been subject to punishment, and what you did is actually nothing deserving reward; you did not do anything special. That Pharisee enumerated his rights to be heard, and left the church with nothing. The harm is not that he had actually done as he said, for indeed he should have done it. The harm is that he presented it as something special; whereas, having done it he should have thought no more of it. Deliver us, O Lord, from this sin of the Pharisee! One rarely speaks as the Pharisee in words, but in the feelings of the heart, one is rarely unlike him. For why is it that people pray badly? It is because they feel as though they are just fine in the sight of God, even without praying. 

What is the Triodion? (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)

By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Our ecclesiastical calendar not only includes immovable feasts, such as, for example, that of Basil the Great (January 1st) or the Dormition of the Theotokos (August 15th) or Christmas (December 25th), and so forth, but it also includes movable feasts which are not celebrated on certain and stable dates, but on different dates each year. This is because the whole cycle of these feasts depend on Holy Easter. But Easter is a movable feast. Our Church has decreed, through the First Ecumenical Synod, that it is to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. An "equinox" is the time point at which daytime is equal to nighttime. We have two equinoxes: in the Spring we have the spring equinox and in the Autumn we have the autumn equinox. The first is on the 21st of March and the second is on the 23rd of September. Because the full moon of the spring equinox is not fixed, which means that it does not always fall on the same date, for this reason Easter is celebrated on different dates each year. Since Easter is a movable feast, it is natural that all the feasts that depend on it are also movable. These feasts consist of two cycles: the cycle of the Triodion and the cycle of the Pentecostarion. Regarding the Pentecostarion, we will speak, God willing, another time; today we will speak about the Triodion.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue (Fr. John Romanides) - Part 4 of 5

...continued from part three.


The transposition of the Roman Orthodox principles of ecclesiology and synodical administration to the American scene would mean the existence of a bishop in each Eucharistic Assembly, or at least in each city, town and village. The provincial synods within the Roman Empire would be equivalent to county synods presided over by the bishops of the county seats who would be called Metropolitans. These would be autonomous Churches as described above. The Roman dioceses would be somewhat equivalent to our States. The presiding bishop of that county which contained the capital city of the State would preside over his own provincial synod which would be autocephalous and at the same time he would preside over the ordination, but not the election, of the county Metropolitans within the State. The bishops of State capitals would probably be called Archbishops.

A Car Ride With Elder Agathon of Konstamonitou (+ 2020)


A certain pilgrim wrote:
This past summer God fulfilled my desire to meet Elder Agathon and receive his blessing!

Elder Agathon had resigned due to health reasons as Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Konstamonitou on the Holy Mountain in 2018 and over the past year he resided in the Metochion of the Monastery which honors the Holy Protomartyr Stephen located in Perea, Thessaloniki.

The late Elder was a spiritual child of Elder Ephraim of Philotheou and Arizona, the founder of Athonite Monasticism in the United States of America, who in 1979 sent him along with other fathers of Philotheou to staff the Sacred Monastery of Konstamonitou.

Holy Martyrs Didymos, Nemesios and Potamios

Sts. Didymos, Nemesios and Potamios (Feast Day - February 20)
Nothing is known of these three Holy Martyrs except that they were martyred for their faith in Christ on the island of Cyprus at different times, according to Archimandrite Kyprianos (later Archbishop of Cyprus) in his Ιστορία χρονολογική της νήσου Κύπρου (Venice, 1788). The Roman Martyrology also lists them as Martyrs of Cypus to be commemorated on February 20th. However, Hippolyte Delehaye says they could have been from Alexandria.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue (Fr. John Romanides) - Part 3 of 5

In the ancient Church each Eucharistic assembly was headed by a bishop. Very early these bishops organized themselves into synods whose jurisdiction was determined by the provincial divisions of the Roman Empire. The provincial synods gathered together at the ordinations of the bishops and at regular intervals at the provincial capitals. Since the bishop of the provincial capital was usually the host at the gatherings of the bishops, he was recognized as the presiding bishop of the provincial synod and became known as the Metropolitan. The bishops decided upon questions by vote in synod and not by the arbitrary rule of any one bishop. The Metropolitan was primus inter pares.

When the Roman provinces were later reorganized and grouped into dioceses, the bishops of the diocesan capitals were recognized as having a primacy of honor (primus inter pares) above that of the provincial Metropolitans. Then there was a higher scale of primacy of honor for those bishops of imperial capitals. Rome was given the first place (primus inter pares), Alexandria, the capital of the Ptolemies, was accorded second place, and Antioch, the capital of the Seleucid Empire, third place.

Saint Philothei of Athens (1522-1589)

St. Philothei lived in Turkish-occupied, sixteenth-century Athens. Her spiritual and social work was groundbreaking, especially for a woman of that era. It was accomplished within the Church and dedicated to the service of the Greek people as a continuation and expression of Orthodoxy and Romanity. On 19 February 1589, she passed into the ranks of the New Martyrs who, with their blood, paid for their dynamic missionary work during the years of the Turkish occupation.

As we leaf through the Synaxarion, the Spiritual Meadow, and the lives of the athletes of the Church, a complete army of righteous, heroes, martyrs, venerable ones, and saints come to mind. And the Church, which is “adorned in the blood of the martyrs as purple and fine linen,” praises martyrdom, raising up and extolling the spirit and sanctity of the martyrs as an example to the faithful, aimed at encouraging them to emulation and the praise of their spiritual strength.

The Crypt of Saint Philothei

Discovered accidentally in 1934 during quarrying, the Crypt of Saint Philothei is a small natural cave, converted into a chapel by Rigoula Venizelou. The daughter of a famous 16th-century family that lived in Athens during the Ottoman occupation, Venizelou died a martyr, and was later canonized with her monastic name Philothei. 
Saint Philothei would pray in this chapel, which was dedicated to the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. Some maintain that the Saint used this as an escape tunnel for herself and her nuns. Some believe it was here that she was laid to rest after her martyrdom, which emitted a beautiful fragrance and led to the discovery that her relics remained incorrupt.

The Well of Saint Philothei in Athens

Saint Philothei offered incalculable help to the inhabitants of Athens, both spiritually and in their daily living needs. One of the vital needs to which she contributed was that of a water supply.

Athens is mostly dry and its water sources were very far away. This created a lot of problems for its residents, who had to travel long distances to transport and use water.

Saint Philothei Welcomes the Refugees from Asia Minor in 1922 in the Settlement of Psychiko



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Father Iakovos Valodemos: The Priest Who Miraculously Survived Machine Gunfire from German Soldiers

By Archimandrite Haralambos Vasilopoulos

According to a letter from the teacher Savvas Theodorou, which was sent and published in the newspaper "Orthodoxos Typos", during the German occupation the following event occurred:

When one afternoon the Elder, Fr. Iakovos Valodemos (1870-1960), was traveling on foot from Ioannina to Monodendri, he reached Karyes which is located near the 19th kilometer of the main road Ioannina - Konitsa.

There he was met by a German patrol who were trying with nods and yelling to force him to stop.

The "Good Friday" of Russian Monasticism (17-18 February 1932)

A special place in the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in the twentieth century is occupied by the event, which was named the "Good Friday of Russian Monasticism." On one night from 17 to 18 February 1932, hundreds of monks and nuns were arrested, thrown into prison and subsequently sent into exile. These were primarily from monasteries in the northwestern region of Russia: Makarievskaya Hermitage, Alexander Nevsky Lavra, and the monasteries of Ioannovsky, Novodevichy Voskresensky, Vokhonovsky, Pyatogorsky, Kashinsky, Staroladozhsky. On this day, the following were arrested, and later numbered among the saints - Sts. Arefa Mitrenin, Lev Egorov, Maria Lelyanova and Patrick Petrov. At the moment, there is information there were about 273 monastics and 45 brothers and sisters. This is not a complete list. The arrests continued, and on April 17 and 18 of the same year, more than 200 people were arrested.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue (Fr. John Romanides) - Part 2 of 5

...continued from part one.


For several decades Protestants and Roman Catholics (particularly the latter) have emphasized the jurisdictional alignments along ethnic lines of Orthodoxy in America and elsewhere in order to point a finger at what they consider disunity and "nationalism." Limited by their own understanding of unity as involving merger (Protestant) or centralization (Roman Catholic), they fail to discern how the Orthodox themselves view unity, and to appreciate how oneness of the Orthodox in faith and worship constitutes a union which transcends such cultural diversities as exist, sometimes even within a single or ethnic group.

Saint Paisios the Athonite and Some of His Military Hardships

Saint Paisios, known as Arsenios at the time, began his military service for his country in April of 1948, and served as radio operator. During this time he experienced unimaginable hardships short of actual combat, due to his occupation.
He related that once, having run out of food, his company was reduced to eating snow flakes. Another time they were left without food for thirteen days and survived on wild chestnuts. More frequently, they suffered from dehydration, and then they were forced to drink water that had accumulated in animal footprints.

Their greatest enemy was the cold. They slept in tents, and when they woke up in the morning, the tents would be covered in snow, and they would count how many had developed frostbite. One morning, digging in the snow with a pickax, Arsenios uncovered twenty-three frostbitten men.

What Does Snow Have in Common With the Love of God?

What does snow have in common 
with the love of God?  
Like snow falling quietly
it covers everything and freezes them,  
but beautifies the landscape  
and changes it;
so is the love  
and the Grace of God
it comes quietly and covers everything. 
It freezes our passions,  
beautifies life 
and changes everything, 
inside us and around us.
- Saint Amphilochios Makris

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue (Fr. John Romanides) - Part 1 of 5

The following little-known and historically important text of Fr. John Romanides was included in a chapter for the book What's Ahead for the Churches? that was published in 1963. Originally it was published in the journal Christian Century that same year as part of a series of papers that were eventually to form the book by distinguished scholars of various faith backgrounds dealing with their representative faith and its future in the part of the world they knew best. At the time, Fr. John Romanides was a professor at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, so he decided to write about the current and future challenges of Orthodoxy in America. Fr. Romanides takes his critical and prophetic task seriously and offers a fascinating look at how an Orthodox scholar viewed the current state of Orthodoxy in America and its future from the perspective of 1963. Because it takes up 19 pages in the book, I have divided it here in 3-parts.
The Orthodox: Arrival and Dialogue

By John S. Romanides

The appearance of Orthodox churches in the western hemisphere, particularly in the United States and Canada, could prove to be one of the most important factors in the current move toward Christian unity. That may seem a strange credit to impute to the relatively late insertion of 5 million or so Orthodox Christians into a religious and cultural complex made up of some 100 million Protestants and Roman Catholics. But to the Orthodox theologian it is obvious, and it will become more clear as Orthodoxy completes her evolution from the status of immigrant to that of native American church, a process that will render her capable of interpreting herself to her new neighbors.

Synaxis of Panagia Plikatiotissa

Synaxis of Panagia Plikatiotissa (Feast Day - February 16)
The history of the village of Plikati in Konitsa of Ioannina at an altitude of 1200 meters is combined and parallel with the tradition of the finding of the miraculous icon of the Panagia Plikatiotissa that has blessed the village since 1770.

According to tradition, the icon was found as follows:

Shepherds were grazing their sheep in a place called Pestilepi south of the village Dentsiko, today called Aetomilitsa, east of the settlement Phetokos, of today's Theotokos, and saw in the darkness in the opposite forest a bright light.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Saint Anthimos and the Healing of a Member of Parliament in Chios

Saint Nikephoros the Leper (1890-1964), the spiritual child of Saint Anthimos of Chios, narrated the following about him:

"Then Mr. Rodocanachi, an MP and senator of Chios, fell ill and approached death. His son-in-law was the doctor Mr. Kountouras. He and other doctors in the country could not figure out his illness.

However, his daughter, Mr. Kountouras's wife, had great faith and reverence for our holy Elder and persuaded her husband Mr. Kountouras to have our holy Elder go to the home, and he went.

Synaxis of the Dalmatian Icon of the Mother of God

Original Dalmatian icon in a frame and an icon case
(photo by S.M. Prokudin-Gorsky, 1911)
In Perm Gubernia, Shadrinsk county, on the banks of the Iseti River, is the Dalmatian Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos. In the main church of this monastery is a wonderworking Icon of the Dormition of the Mother of God, which belonged to Father Dalmatios, the founder of this monastery.

In the first half of the 17th century, a certain resident of Tobolsk, a nobleman by the name of Demetrios Mokrinsky, left his wife and children, and went to the Nevyansky Monastery (Tobolsk Diocese), where he was tonsured with the name Dalmatios, in honor of the fourth century ascetic Saint Dalmatios of Constantinople (August 3).

Synaxis of the Vilna Icon of the Mother of God

According to legend, the Vilna Icon, being of the Hodegetria type, was painted by the Holy Evangelist Luke, and was brought from Palestine to Constantinople, and for many years it belonged to the family of the Roman emperors. Later, they sent the Icon as a gift to the rulers of Galicia and Chervona Rus'.

According to the most common version, in 1472 the Icon was brought to Moscow by Princess Sophia Palaiologos, who became the wife of the Grand Duke of Moscow Ivan III (1462-1505). There is also a version that does not find wide support that the Icon passed to the Grand Duke of Moscow from the Galician princes after the fall of the Galician principality. Both legends converge in all other details. It did not stay in Moscow very long, however. In 1495, Grand Duke Ivan III, blessed his daughter Elena with the Icon before giving her in marriage to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander. Thus, the Icon came with her to the Lithuanian capital of Vilna (Vilnius).

Saint Onesimus the Apostle Resource Page



Onesimus laid out his legs to be broken,
Legs which bravely ran on roads to Paul.
On the fifteenth the legs of Onesimus were crushed.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

17th Sunday of Matthew: The Unity of Human Nature (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

“Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed” (Matt. 15:22).

The pain of the Canaanite woman for her demon possessed daughter, as well as her great faith in Christ, made her cry out: "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon possessed." Her request is personal, even if it was more about her daughter, because her child's pain is also her own pain. She asks for God's mercy, because this is an inexhaustible source and has inexpressible power. And Christ offers healing to her daughter, because her mother asked with great faith. "'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

Gospel Commentary for the Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew (St. John Chrysostom)


Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew
Sunday of the Canaanite Woman

By St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 52 on Matthew)
"And Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil" (Matthew 15:21-22).

But Mark says, that "He could not be hid" (Mark 7:24), though He had entered into the house. And why did He go at all into these parts? When He had set them free from the observance of meats, then to the Gentiles also He goes on to open a door, proceeding in due course; even as Peter, having been first directed to annul this law, is sent to Cornelius.

Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew - Sunday of the Canaanite Woman (Monk Agapios Landos)

By Monk Agapios Landos of Crete

"At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, 'Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.'" The Lord prevented His disciples from going into the lands of the pagans, but He Himself went to Tyre and Sidon which were towns where Greeks lived. He did so in order to condemn the lack of faith on the part of the Jews. So the Canaanite woman, who must have learned of the Lord’s reputation earlier, heard that He had come to that part of the country and approached Him crying: "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." With these words, the woman confessed the accuracy of her faith and shamed the Jews for not being persuaded by the words of Christ, the Savior. She didn’t know the Law, hadn’t studied the Prophets, yet called Him God and man when asking for His mercy. By saying "Have mercy on me, Lord," she acknowledged His divinity; with "Son of David," His humanity.

Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew: Gospel Reading


Seventeenth Sunday of Matthew

Sunday of the Canaanite Woman

Gospel According to Matthew 15:21-28


At that time, Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Saint Symeon the Myrrhgusher as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Symeon the Myrrhgusher lived the 12th and the beginnings of the 13th century A.D. He was the first glorious ruler of Serbia, of the Nemanjic dynasty. Through marriage he was the father of three children, two sons and a daughter. His two sons are Saints of the Orthodox Church. One is Sava, the first Archbishop of the Serbs, and the other is Stephen II the First-Crowned. Symeon was a ruler who loved God and was a philanthropist, an opponent of heresies and a champion of Orthodoxy. His first son, Sava, became a monk on Mount Athos and from there sent his father a letter in which he primarily mentioned the futility of the world. When Symeon read this letter, he decided to go to Mount Athos, where he remained until the end of his earthly life as a monk, and, indeed, as a submissive of his son. His wife also became a nun. Also, their example was imitated by some of their relatives.

Commemoration of the Appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of Tours

On February 13, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates the appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of Tours.

From childhood, Saint Martin was known for his compassionate heart and great pity for the poor. When he was twenty-two years old, even before he was baptized, he began to give away all his possessions to those in need, and soon he was left with just one set of clothes and a knife.

Saint Martin, like many young men, had to serve in the army for several years. One day, while serving in Gaul, when the weather was very harsh and unusually cold, he met a man at the city gates of Amiens, almost naked, and begging for alms. Martin saw that people just walked past the man without taking any notice. Since Martin had already given away everything he owned, he had only his cloak and his uniform. No one else would help the beggar, so Martin felt that it was his responsibility to do something for him.

Recalling the Savior's words: "If anyone wishes to judge you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Matthew 5:40), Martin drew his sword and cut his cloak in two. Giving half to the beggar, he wrapped himself in the other half. Seeing him in the torn cloak, those standing by began to laugh at his strange appearance. Others, who had more sense, regretted the fact that they had done nothing for the man, although they could have clothed the beggar without uncovering themselves as Saint Martin did.

That night, in his sleep, Martin saw Christ wearing half of his cloak, which he had given the beggar. The Lord told him to look at Him and to notice that it was the same garment. Then the Savior said to the Angels who surrounded Him, "Martin is still just a catechumen, but he has clothed me in this garment."

Saint Martin did not become puffed up with pride because of this vision. Instead, he saw this as a sign of God's goodness, which confirmed Christ's words: "Truly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).

Because Saint Martin gave alms throughout his life, he was rewarded with the gift of working miracles, after being baptized at the age of eighteen. Let us follow his example so that we might be granted a small corner of Paradise.

The part of the claok kept by himself became the famous relic preserved in the oratory of the Merovingian kings of the Franks at the Marmoutier Abbey near Tours. During the Middle Ages, the supposed relic of Saint Martin's miraculous cloak (cappa Sancti Martini) was carried by the king even into battle, and used as a holy relic upon which oaths were sworn. The cloak is first attested to in the royal treasury in 679, when it was conserved at the palatium of Luzarches, a royal villa that was later ceded to the monks of Saint-Denis by Charlemagne, in 798/99. The structure in which the half-cloak was preserved was referred to as cappella (‘little cloak’), a term that came to be used widely for buildings that served to keep relics and from which the modern word ‘chapel’ is derived.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
In signs and in miracles you were renowned throughout Gaul. By grace and adoption you are a light for the world, O Martin, blessed of God. Almsgiving and compassion filled your life with their splendors, teaching and wise counsel were your riches and treasures, which you dispense freely to those who honor you.

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As a devoted man of God, you proclaimed His mysteries, and as a seer of the Trinity, you shed your blessings on the Occident. By your prayers and entreaties, O adornment of Tours and glory of all the Church, preserve us, O Saint Martin, and save all who praise your memory.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Saint John of Kronstadt and the Students of the Revolution of His Time

Reading through the diaries and sermons of Saint John of Kronstadt, one will see that he had much to say about Russian society in his days, which was increasingly becoming more socialist and liberal, and often his observations presumed to be not very good for the future of Russia. Listener's could hear him say such things as this:

“Our ancestors sinned, but they called a sin a sin; today’s liberals however sin and try to justify the sin, as if it were a lawful deed. Take the sins of the flesh — all of this according to their opinion is not only simple weakness of human nature, but also the laws of nature and its demands. Russia is floundering, suffering, tormented by its bloody inner struggle, from bad harvests and famine, from terrifyingly high prices, from godlessness, from extreme moral degradation. Evil times — people have turned into animals, even into evil spirits. The government has become weak. It itself has falsely understood the freedom it has given to the people. Evil has increased in Russia to monstrous proportions and it has become almost impossible to set it right. When the consequences of all-around non-submission to the authorities and the inaction of the subordinate members of society, and with this inaction the action of the government ceases, as if the blood were to cease circulating in an organic body, then everything in society dies, descends, falls apart; social safety disappears and members of one society attack each other — a total rampage of thievery, plunder, enmity, and murder.”

Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow and the Healing the Tatar Queen Taidula from Blindness

In August 1357, Metropolitan Alexis of Moscow was summoned by Jani Beg, the Khan of the Golden Horde, to cure his mother Taidula Khatun of blindness. The Metropolitan's success is held to have prevented a Tatar raid on Moscow, and the Russian Church was freed from all tributes, extortions and violence from the secular authorities.

Homily in Praise of Saint Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch (St. John Chrysostom)


Life of Our Holy Father Meletios, Archbishop of Antioch

St. Meletios of Antioch (Feast Day - February 12)
The holy Meletius was a member of one of the noblest families of Lesser Armenia and was born in the city of Melitene. Renowned for his piety and meek demeanor, he was elected to the see of Sebastea in the year 357, but met with such violent opposition that he departed his diocese and made his abode in the desert, later retiring to the town of Beria in Syria.

Eudoxus, Archbishop of Antioch, [1] a proponent of the Arian heresy, was attracted by the wealth of the see of Constantinople and wished to transfer thither. His opportunity came when the infamous heretic Macedonius, [2] who had hitherto held the position of archpastor in Constantinople, was expelled. During the reign of Constantius, [3] son of the holy Emperor Constantine the Great, the Church of Constantinople abounded in great treasures and was far richer than the Church of Antioch and the others. Hence, Eudoxus, disdaining the see of Antioch, began to covet the see of Constantinople. But the inhabitants of Antioch, learning of the intrigues of their archbishop, were greatly offended, incensed against him because he had spurned his own Church, and for this cause they drove him from their midst. And betaking himself to Constantinople, Eudoxus indeed did manage to obtain the cathedra of that city.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Saint Haralambos and the Plague of 1753 in Trypi


The village of Trypi is 9 km to the west of Sparta and belongs to the municipality of Mystras, in the southern Peloponnese. There, next to the Church of the Holy Trinity, is a shrine dedicated to Saint Haralambos, which is accompanied by a marble cross, at the base of which is the following inscription:

ΕΤΕΙ 1753

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