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February 28, 2021

Sunday of the Prodigal Son (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)


By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

The second week of the Triodion begins with the "Sunday of the Prodigal Son". It is called this, because on it the Church brings before us the parable of our Lord regarding the "Prodigal Son". We all know it: It speaks of a rich young man who left his paternal home and went to a distant country. Their he squandered his property in prodigality, to the point where he had to graze pigs. At that point he repented, and he returned to his father, who accepted him with infinite love and affection.

Again, we record what the Horologion of our Church says:

"The Savior presented to us three things through this parable of the Gospel - the state of the sinner, the canon of repentance and the grandeur of divine compassion. It was placed here by the divine Fathers, after the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, to also instruct us, to see in the person of the prodigal our own wretched state, in as much as we roll around in our sins, in as much as we find ourselves to be far from God and His Mysteries, and finally coming to our senses, we hasten our return to Him through repentance, even during these holy days of the fast.

And something else. Because we have spent our time in these many and great acts of iniquity, frequently we come to despair, thinking that there is no forgiveness for them, and in our hopelessness we fall back into them every day and sometimes even worse than before. For this reason the divine Fathers, with the purpose of uprooting the passion of despair from our hearts, and in order to encourage us, and excite us towards acts of virtue, they prescribed this parable as we are at the brink of fasting, showing us the philanthropy and most good compassion of God through the story of the prodigal, and that there is no sin, no matter how greatly we are under it, that is able to ever defeat his philanthropic judgment."

On this day our Church invites us to chant to our Heavenly Father:

"O Father, foolishly I ran away from Your glory, and in sin, squandered the riches You gave me. Wherefore, I cry out to You with the voice of the Prodigal, I have sinned before You Compassionate Father. Receive me in repentance and take me as one of Your hired servants."

The Parable of the Prodigal Son is inexhaustible in meanings. It would not be too much to say that the whole work of the Divine Economy is in it.

My brethren! On the day of the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we all celebrate. We all have our feast. All without exception! All of us are prodigal sons, who have removed ourselves from the House of our Heavenly Father, and destroyed in our sins His gifts. Let us return therefore in repentance to the divine Embrace of our Father, and let us cry:

"Good Father, I have gone far from You, but do not forsake me, nor declare me unfit for Your Kingdom. The all-evil enemy has stripped me naked and taken all my wealth. I have squandered like the prodigal the graces given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and I cry aloud to You: Make me as one of Your hired servants, You who for my sake stretched out Your spotless hands on the Cross, to snatch me from the fearsome beast and to clothe me once again in the first robe, for You alone are full of mercy."

Source: From the book Περίοδος Τριωδίου. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Sermon for the Sunday of the Prodigal Son (Monk Agapios Landos)

By Monk Agapios Landos of Crete
God is always good and kind to everyone, more than patient with us. But He manifests His great goodness in particular towards those who are sinning. It looks as though He burdens the righteous on all sides and doesn’t give them any respite, yet He’s much more compassionate towards sinners and more easily moved to sympathy for them. He pulls them out from the cadaver of sin and brings them to repentance. The Lord says: ‘As I live, I do not desire the death of sinners, but that they should turn and live. Should the fallen not be raised? Should those who have turned away not turn back? Turn to me and I shall turn to you.' To the righteous, He says: ‘If you observe all righteousness and truth, and if you keep all my commandments and then fall into sin, I will not remember your righteousness, but you shall die in your sin.' The Lord is very strict towards the righteous, but has sympathy, immeasurable compassion and infinite goodness towards sinners. This is because, being all-wise, He knows not to frighten those who have sinned against Him, lest they fall into despair; whereas if He praises the righteous, He will encourage complacency. And so He shows mercy to sinners but puts His fear into the righteous, as He is terrible among the saints.

Holy Martyrs Who Died in the Great Plague in Alexandria

The Plague in Rome, Jules Elie Delaunay. Art: Minneapolis Institute of Art

According to the Roman Martyrology under February 28th, there is a mention for the commemoration of the following Holy Martyrs:

"In Alexandria, in the reign of the emperor Valerian, the commemoration of the holy priests, deacons, and other Christians in great number, who encountered death most willingly by nursing the victims of a most deadly pestilence then raging. They have been generally revered as martyrs by the pious faithful."

In other words, these Christian victims of this pandemic are considered martyrs, out of their selfless love for others, putting themselves in harms way in order to help others in their time of need, and in order for others to not face death alone in their suffering.

February 27, 2021

Saint Ephraim of Katounakia Resource Page

The Skull and Grave of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia




Synaxarion of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia


By Dr. Haralambos Boussias
On this day [February 27th], the commemoration of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who just now lived in asceticism in Katounakia.
Obedience, prayer and harsh training,
In these you excelled, O Ephraim, in Katounakia.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who lived in asceticism in Katounakia of Athos in a God-pleasing manner, was born on December 6th, 1912 in Ampelochorio of Thebes. A child of parents with four children, John and Victoria Papanikitas, he received in holy baptism the name Evangelos.

The Skull and Grave of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia

In 1996 our Venerable Father Ephraim of Katounakia suffered a stroke and was left immobile until he reposed in the Lord on February 27, 1998. Having lived 65 years on the Holy Mountain, he was buried in the gardens of his cell at the Hut of Saint Ephraim the Syrian in Katounakia, in a grave he had dug with his own hands. His grace-filled skull is kept in the church of the same Hut.
Hut of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

February 26, 2021

Saint Photini and the Spirit of the Triodion

By Fr. Panteleimon Krouskos

Today Saint Photini the Samaritan Woman celebrates, whose memory "ties" harmoniously with the spirit and atmosphere of the Triodion. Regarding her meeting with Christ at the well of Jacob and her biography, there is a plethora of spiritual texts. There is a huge amount of theology hidden in this encounter. It is as inexhaustible as "the water that gushes forth eternal life".

The Cathedral Church of Saint Photini in Smyrna, Which Was Destroyed in 1922


The Metropolitan or Cathedral Church of Saint Photini in Smyrna (Izmir) of Asia Minor was completely destroyed in 1922. However, its impressive bell tower survives to this day in many cities in Greece, as the Smyrna refugees wanted to bring with them the most glorious part of their homeland.

Smyrna was one of the most cosmopolitan centers of the Mediterranean. Races and religions from all over the world coexisted harmoniously in its neighborhoods. The Greek Orthodox community was one of the most numerous and important. That is why there were a total of sixteen Orthodox churches in the entire city of 350,000 inhabitants. The largest was of course the Cathedral of Saint Photini with its famous bell tower.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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



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.

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

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 5-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.

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.

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."