April 30, 2021

Relics of the Cross of the Good Thief

The Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome claims to have a portion of the cross on which the Good Thief was crucified next to Jesus; it is located in its La Cappella delle Reliquie. 
This cross was found by Saint Helen in the fourth century when she discovered the True Cross of the Lord. According to tradition, Saint Helen herself brought this relic to Rome which she kept in her palace.

Jesus on the Cross


By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus 
"And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him." (Lk. 23:33)

With these simple words Luke the Evangelist mentions the greatest event in world history. The biggest crime ever committed. The most sacred sacrifice offered on a scaffold.

Christ on the Cross, as a common criminal. O! inconceivable condescension of the incarnate Word! The cross was then the most dishonorable instrument of death. The worst of the convicts were crucified. But since the Saint of saints was raised on the Cross, it has become an instrument of life, an instrument of redemption and salvation.

Great Friday - The Last Kiss?

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869) 
"Come, brethren, and let us give a final kiss to him whom death has taken." 
Is it the last kiss of our Lord Jesus Christ today? For Him, no doubt, it is not the last, because always, until the end of the age, as long as His Church will exist on earth, Christians will give Him this kiss, which for you and me, listener, it may be the last, because this year we may die and therefore may not live to see a future Great Friday.
Christian listener! With this, perhaps, the last kiss of our Savior for you and me, let us think about ourselves, about our salvation. Jesus Christ did everything for our salvation, everything, He even did it out of love for us, and more than what can be done in life, He died for our salvation. What, on our part, did we do to save ourselves? Have we taken advantage of what Jesus Christ did for us? Everything He did for our salvation, He handed over to the Holy Church, in which He Himself, as her Head, always invisibly dwells and acts. Have you obeyed this Church? Are you fulfilling what she recognizes as necessary for our salvation and which she certainly requires from everyone who wants to be saved?

Or do you think to be saved another way? Don't you even consider it necessary to think a lot about your salvation? You think that nothing special is needed for salvation, you do not need to make any donations and concessions to others, no restrictions and constraints for yourself, you do not need any fasting, no prayers, no worship, no cleansing, no sanctification, in a word, you do not need to follow the teaching, rules, the charter of the Church of Christ, but it is enough to live and act according to your own understanding and according to your will; to live as you like, to do what you yourself find good, necessary and saving for yourself?

But think about it. If we could be saved this way, by ourselves, living and acting as anyone wants or as anyone thinks, without doing anything special for our salvation, then why did God do so many things solely so that we do not die? Why did He speak to people so many times and in so many ways through the prophets, instructing them on the path of salvation? Why, finally, did He send His only begotten Son into the world, so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish, but have eternal life? And why did the Son of God have to do so much for our salvation? He descended from Heaven, was incarnated, He preached everywhere for three years, chose special disciples and sent them to preach, then endured various sufferings, died on the cross, was buried, rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, sent the Holy Spirit from the Father to His disciples, created a special Church, established special Sacraments, established special pastors of the Church - and all this is solely for the sake of our salvation.

Why would our God do all this for us if we could be saved the way you think and how you live, that is, without thinking a lot about your salvation, not doing anything special for this and not using anything special? Pay attention to this Shroud, where Jesus Christ is depicted lying shortly after His decease when He was taken down from the cross, look: from His ribs there is blood, from His legs and hands - blood, His head - blood. Obviously, He died a martyr's death, painful, although He suffered for us voluntarily. Why should He, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, die such a death for the sake of our salvation, if we can be saved ourselves, without any outside help and without our special efforts?

O, think! It's not only about what is and what was, but also about what will happen to you! Or, in order to rid yourself of fear for your future fate, you are ready to doubt everything, you are ready not to believe anything. But think! What do you doubt, what do you not believe? After all, your eternal fate depends on this. We will die and this cannot be denied, although we are sometimes ready in this too to doubt it. What one does not want so much is reluctant to believe. We will die. And what if after death we regret and grieve that we did not believe in anything here and therefore did nothing for our salvation and did not use anything of what the Savior did for us?

Here, sometimes for a day or an hour you can regret, to grieve when you fail to do something proper, necessary, or do something bad, wicked, or even say something offensive to someone, especially an important person. But what if after death we regret and grieve for all eternity that we did not think about, did not take care of our salvation, did nothing, did not use anything for our salvation?

Think about this and what Jesus Christ did for our salvation. Think, judge, remember, so that you do not sin forever, so that you do not repent forever. And now let us add our sinful lips to His most pure wounds. With His wounds sinners are healed. Perhaps you and I will be healed. Yes, you and I are sick, sick with unbelief, doubt and other mental ailments, sick from birth and spoiled - by bad upbringing, examples of bad people, reading bad books, and most importantly - spoiled by our evil passions.

O, do not allow, Lord, that our present kiss to You be the last for us in this life. And if the latter, then hasten to help us with Your grace and mercy. Amen.


Elder Kyrillos Saw in a Vision the Descent of Christ from the Cross

The following story was delivered in a homily by Elder Gabriel, the current Abbot of the Monastery of Venerable David in Evia, on 17 March 2019 during Vespers at the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Kalamaria of Thessaloniki, when talking about the life and conduct of the late Holy Elder Kyrillos, Abbot of the Monastery of Venerable David (+ 2012), his predecessor and the successor of Saint Iakovos Tsalikes.

Fourth Homily for Holy Friday (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Fourth Homily for Holy Friday

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Commentary on Luke, Sermon 152)

Luke 23:24-31. And Pilate gave sentence that their request should be done. And he released him who for sedition and murder was cast into prison, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus to their will. And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country; and on him they laid the cross to carry it after Jesus. And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented Him. And Jesus turned Himself to them, and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and your children. For behold the days come, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps that never gave nurture. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us: and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

First and Second Homily for Holy Friday (St. Cyril of Alexandria)


First Homily for Holy Friday

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Commentary on Luke, Sermon 149)

Luke 22:54-62. And they took Him, and led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest's house: and Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them: and a certain maiden beholding him as he sat at the light, looked earnestly at him and said, "This man also was with Him." But he denied Him, saying, "Woman, I know Him not." And after a little while another saw him, and said, "You also are one of them." And Peter said, "Man, I am not." And about the space of an hour after, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Of a truth this man also was with Him: for he is a Galilaean." But Peter said, "Man, I know not what you say." And immediately while he was yet speaking the cock crowed. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter: and Peter remembered the word of the Lord that He had said to him, "Today before the cock crow you shall deny Me thrice." And he went out and wept bitterly.

April 29, 2021

Discourse on the Great Despotic Prayer of Jesus (St. Chrysostomos of Smyrna)

By Holy Hieromartyr Chrysostomos, 
Metropolitan of Smyrna (+ 1922)

"Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are." (Jn 17:11)

What a great and wondrous and wonderful thing is the prayer which is contained in today's Gospel reading that Jesus prayed to His Father with His eyes lifted up to heaven.

The entire seventeenth chapter of the Gospel according to John contains nothing else but this prayer of Jesus to His Father, which He prays first regarding the glory and triumph of His work, which was for the salvation of the world, the salvation of which He was to accomplish with His blood, and the final hour was approaching; secondly, with regard to His disciples, those who from the beginning and at first consisted of the core, the first small flock that believed in His name, and who, though their good shepherd will be taken away, they were to remain as orphaned and unprotected sheep in the midst of wolves, and having need of this support from above and extraordinary divine protection, not only to bravely endure the coming dangers and persecutions, but also with magnanimity to joyfully receive the exalted and thrice-glorious mission, to spread Christianity to the ends of the earth and preach the gospel to the nations glorifying Jesus; and thirdly, Jesus prays for all those, who through the preaching of the Apostles throughout the centuries will believe in Christ, that they will be arrayed as soldiers of that one army under the one flag of the heavenly King, Christ.

The Immortal Table

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"Come, O faithful, let us enjoy the Master's hospitality and immortal table, in the upper room, that is, in elevated minds."

The Church has elevated us to the sacred atmosphere of the Secret Supper tonight. That night the Lord delivered to His disciples the All-Holy Mystery of the Divine Eucharist. And He made the greatest gift to His faithful by giving them for spiritual food His Body and His Blood.

This great gift, inconceivable to the human mind, invites us to pay special care and enjoy it, as it should be, according to the holy hymn writer.

Third, Fourth and Fifth Homilies for Holy Thursday (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria
(Commentary on Luke, Sermon 143)

Luke 22:24-30. And there was also a strife among them, as to which of them seems to be the most important. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles are their lords: and they who rule over them are called benefactors. But with you it is not so; but he who is great among you, let him be as the least, and let him who governs be as he that serves. For which is the chief, he that reclines at table or he that serves? Is not he that reclines? But I am in the midst of you as he that serves. But you are they who have remained with Me in My temptations, and I will make a covenant with you, as My Father has appointed for Me a kingdom, that you shall eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Great Thursday - Imitating the Lord's Humility (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)


By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).

Not only God, but we also love humble people; such is the quality of humility - it involuntarily attracts everyone. We love humble people, pious listeners, but we ourselves do not love to humble ourselves before others; we are afraid so as not to humiliate ourselves with humility, we are afraid that we will be considered weak, cowardly people, when we humble ourselves before others.

April 28, 2021

The Paschal "Photikia"

In the Greek city of Ioannina, from the time of Ottoman rule and especially during that of Ali Pasha of Tepelena (1787-1822), the arts flourished, such as silversmithing (ecclesiastical and folk), gold embroidery, weaving and coppersmithing.

The "photikia" are an Easter custom, related to the art of copper.

The traditional art of coppersmithing can still be admired in Ioannina, in shops on Anexartisias Street and in Kaloutsiani Square.

How is the Date of Easter Determined for Orthodox and Catholics? (A Response from the Holy Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy of Greece)


In 2016 the Holy Synod of the Catholic Hierarchy of Greece issued an announcement to explain to Catholics in Greece why there is such a big difference between the dates of Easter that year (Orthodox - May 1 and Catholics - March 27). I thought it was a very good and simple and accurate explanation on their part, so I translated it. It is also offered as a rebuke to Orthodox Christians, who pride themselves in keeping the traditions of the Church, but fail in accurately determining the date of Easter. We must acknowledge our errors and fix them. We should not place the outdated calendar of a pagan king (Julian Calendar by Julius Caesar), and the outdated calculations of a pagan astronomer (Metonic cycle by Meton the Athenian) above the truth. And despite knowing it is wrong, the Catholic Church in Greece has adopted the Orthodox reckoning out of concerns for the local community.

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (5 of 5)

8. "Grace and Consequent Dogmatic Consciousness"

The ascetic after a great struggle against the passions, but also from the coming and the hiding of divine Grace, acquires the so-called "dogmatic consciousness". As is understood from the above, "dogmatic consciousness" is not a mental knowledge of the doctrines of faith, but an inner spiritual experience that God offers in the heart of man.

The Orthodox monk feels that Divine Grace, from a theological point of view, "is God's good gift, or a gift of God's goodness - the uncreated supra-human and meta-cosmic energy of Divinity." "When it is God’s good pleasure to unite with the human being, man perceives within himself the action of a Divine force which transfigures him and makes him no longer just potentially godlike—in the image of God—but actually godlike in likeness of being.​ The grace that is Divinity hallows man, divinizes him, makes him into a god."

The Repentance of the Sinful Woman

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"She who was engulfed in sin found You, the port of salvation."

The Parable of the Prodigal Son and the scene that the Church reminds us of today have the same lesson. With the difference, that in the parable the theory of repentance is expounded upon, while here we have in practice the manifestation of the compassion of the merciful God.

From the moving scene, which I will present to you, the noblewoman of Byzantium, Kassiani, was inspired and composed her wonderful hymn. Kassiani was not a sinner, as some unhistorically say. In her hymn she describes with unattainable breadth and power a scene that happened when the Lord was on earth, a scene which is the focus of today's worship service of our Church.

What was the scene and where did it unfold?

Great Wednesday - Destruction of Society Is Preceded By Godlessness and Depravity

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

You, Christian listeners, heard the Gospel reading at the Liturgy yesterday. Do you remember what Christ said to His disciples as though incidentally: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another" (Mt. 24:9-10)?

What time did He mean? The time before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and ultimately before the end of the world and Doomsday. Who will be hated by all the nations? The apostles of Christ, their successors, pastors, the Church teachers, and Orthodox Christians all together will be hated. For Whose name’s sake will they be hated? For His name, for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And who will betray and hate each other? The same people who will come to hate the apostles and their successors. First they will hate them, and then will come to hate one another.

Reflection for Holy and Great Wednesday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse 

The Lord fell silent on Wednesday and Thursday until evening, so that on this evening He could pour out a speech with the disciples and to the disciples, a speech like which there is nothing in all the scriptures, not only human, but also Divine. Now, at the direction of the Church, we hear only from the lips of the Lord, so that they do not interfere with smearing Him, because this served Him as a preparation for death. He has only death before His eyes - the final mystery of His coming to earth for our salvation. We will also delve into the contemplation of this mysterious death, in order to extract from there the hope of salvation for our souls burdened with many sins, for we do not know how to find peace for ourselves, wearied from an awakened conscience and the consciousness of the righteousness of God's judgment over us, which is terrible and impartial. 

April 27, 2021

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and Its Theological Messages (2 of 4)


According to her narration, in which later, after her death, she revealed to him that her name was Mary, she lived a prodigal life in Egypt from the time she was twelve years old, since from this young age, as she narrates, "I at first ruined my virginity and then unrestrainedly and insatiably gave myself up to sensuality." Living this life she did not make money, she simply satisfied her passion. She said to him: "It was not for the sake of gain - here I speak the pure truth", but she did her work for free, "doing free of charge what gave me pleasure." And she further revealed: "I had an insatiable desire and an irrepressible passion for lying in filth. This was life to me. Every kind of abuse of nature I regarded as life."

The Hypocrites

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!" (Matthew 23:13-39)

The Lord was always sweet and meek. To sinners He was full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Tonight, however, in the Gospel that we heard, He appears stern and caustic.


O my brethren! the Lord does not abhor the sinner. He came to save sinners. He turns away from the hypocrite and the two-faced. It was against this type that He thundered in the Gospel we heard, in the person of the Pharisees and Scribes of his day.

"The Bridal Chamber of Your Soul" (St. Ephraim of Katounakia)

A brother, distressed, approached Saint Ephraim of Katounakia (1912–1998), and begged him: "Elder, say a prayer for me for my sorrow to go away!" The Elder put his hands on his head and prayed, as usual.

Then the Elder said to him:
"Listen, my child. These days in my prayer God has revealed to me the 'bridal chamber' of my soul; as the troparion of Holy Week says: 'I see Your Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter therein.' Moreover, He revealed to me the 'garment' of my soul."

The Elder's face as he said these words was overjoyed.

And he continued again:
"My child, ask God to show you the 'bridal chamber' of your soul!" 

Great Tuesday - The Sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified" (Matt. 26:2).

The closer the days of the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ approached, the more clearly He spoke to the disciples that He needed to suffer in order to thus gradually prepare them for His sufferings. Let us prepare, listeners, ourselves for the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ by meditating on them.

When thinking about the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, the following thought often comes: why should not the Lord give up suffering? He was free to go or not to suffer, whole legions of God's Angels were ready to stand up for Him. Indeed, all of this is true, listeners. But what would have happened to us if Jesus Christ had not gone to suffer? If He had not suffered, then we should have suffered eternally. No matter how we live on earth, we would not escape hades if Jesus Christ did not descend into hades. But now, with Jesus Christ having suffered, we are free from eternal suffering, now it completely depends on our will - to go to hell or to heaven after death.

Reflection for Holy and Great Tuesday (St. Theophan the Recluse)


By St. Theophan the Recluse

Now the people, priests and authorities of the Jews hear the word of the Lord for the last time in the temple (Matthew 24:36-26, 2). And it was all-embracing; it embraced everything past, present and future. By asking about John, the Lord makes it clear that He is the true Messiah; by the parable of the two sons, he proclaims that the Jews will be rejected and the Gentiles will be called to take their place; by the parable of the winegrowers he tells them that destruction awaits the rejected; by the parable of the marriage of the king's son He teaches that not all of those who come to Him will be worthy, and there will be those who will righteously be cast out into the darkness; by answering questions about the tribute to Caesar and about the first commandment, as well as by the accusatory speech, He determines the characteristic features of the life of salvation; finally, especially to his disciples, He predicts woe to Jerusalem and reveals the secret of His second coming. It was enough just to listen to all this with attention to be sure that He - Christ - is the true Savior of the world, and to submit to His commandments and teachings. And until now, reading the chapters of the Gospel about everything that happened on this day is the most effective means to revive faith in the Lord, and, raising the consciousness in a Christian of what he should be and what to expect, stir up jealousy and show himself as confessing the Lord not in word only, but also by deed.

April 26, 2021

The Meaning of Holy and Great Week

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

We have already entered the most beautiful days of our ecclesiastical festal calendar - Holy Week, which opens before us, floods our hearts with chills and feelings of emotion.

Especially for us Orthodox, the Easter of the Crucifixion and Resurrection, that is, the Passion and the Resurrection of our Lord, has a special significance and weight. Because it is the center of all our liturgical and worship life. In order to benefit from these days it is necessary to delve into the meaning of Holy Week.

They called this week Holy and Great. If we go deeper into these names we will more easily understand the deeper meaning of these days.

Joseph the All-Comely as a Prefiguration of the Lord and as a Model for Us

By Metropolitan Kallinikos Karousos of Piraeus

"Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph; yet the courageous one sat on a chariot, honored as a king. For by refusing to be enslaved by the pleasures of the Egyptian woman, he was later glorified in return by Him who sees men's hearts and deals out the imperishable crown."

Tonight our Church sets before us at the beginning of Holy Week the Righteous Joseph. And the All-Comely Joseph has a major association with Passion Week for two reasons.

First, because in Joseph we have a prefiguration of the Lord.

Second, because Joseph with his prudent conduct provides us with good lessons for our spiritual struggle, especially now during Holy Week.

A Fruitful or a Fruitless Holy Week?

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

Jesus said to the fig tree: "Let no fruit grow on you ever again" (Matt. 21:19).

Once, on this day in the morning, Jesus Christ with His disciples was returning from Bethany to Jerusalem. Continuing His path, He was hungry, and therefore, seeing a fig tree standing not far from the road, He approached it and, finding nothing on it but leaves, said: "Let no fruit grow on you ever again!" The fig tree then immediately withered.

Reflection for Holy and Great Monday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse 
The Lord goes to a voluntary passion. We must accompany Him. This is the duty of anyone who confesses that by the power of Christ’s passion he has become who he is now, and of anyone who hopes to receive something which is so great and glorious, that it could not even enter one’s mind. How must one accompany Him? Through reflection and sympathy. Follow the suffering Lord in thought; and in your reflection extract such impressions as could strike your heart and bring it to feel the sufferings which were borne by the Lord. In order to better accomplish this, you must make yourself suffer through perceptible lessening of food and sleep, and an increase in the labor of standing and kneeling. Fulfill all that the Holy Church does, and you will be a good fellow-traveller of the Lord to His sufferings.

April 25, 2021

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (4 of 5)

6. "Uncreated Divine Light and Ways of Contemplation"

The Uncreated Light is the "is eternal life, the Kingdom of God, the uncreated energy of Divinity."

"Uncreated Divine Light by its nature is absolutely different from ordinary physical light. Contemplating it begets, first and foremost, an all-absorbing feeling of the living God - an immaterial feeling of the Immaterial One, a noetic, yet not a rational perception which with irresistible force transports man into another world but so warily that he neither realises when it happens nor knows whether he is in or out of the body. At the time he is more effectively, more deeply conscious of himself than he ever is in everyday life, yet he forgets both himself and the world, carried away by the sweetness of the love of God. In spirit he beholds the invisible, breathes Him, is wholly in Him."

Palm Sunday - The Rulers and the People (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"The next day a great crowd had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him..." (Jn 12:12-13)

When the Lord entered Jerusalem to suffer for the whole world, He was praised by the people as the conqueror of death, because of the resurrection of Lazarus. The amazing thing is that the people who are now praising Christ, are the same who will ask for His condemnation in a few days. Enthusiasm for Christ will soon turn into rage against Him. It seems did not change, but their rulers will change them. It is one of the many that exist in history, a typical case of alteration of the opinion, the will and the real interest of the people by those ordered to rule them. Let's take a closer look at the issue because it is quite interesting and topical.

Homily for Palm Sunday (St. Photios the Great)

Click on each page to expand image, or read here.

Reflection for Palm Sunday (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse 
Who did not meet the Lord when He, as a king, triumphantly entered into Jerusalem; and who did not cry out then, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Matt. 21:15)? But only four days passed, and the same crowd with the same tongues cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" (John 19:6). An amazing change! But why should we be surprised? Do we not do the very same thing, when upon receiving the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we barely leave the church before forgetting everything—both our reverence and God’s mercy toward us. We give ourselves over as before to self-pleasing deeds—at first small and then also large. Perhaps even before four days have passed, although we do not cry, “Crucify Him!” we will crucify the Lord within ourselves. The Lord sees all of this, and suffers. Glory to Thy long-suffering, O Lord!

Interpretation of the Icon of Palm-Bearing


The Lord's entrance into Jerusalem was a triumphant one. The crowds that flooded the streets, the enthusiasm that was displayed during the welcome, and the praises that were heard, all compose a festive picture. The hagiographer depicts this joyous atmosphere with warm, vivid colors. These can be seen in Christ's garments, the Apostles, the Jews, the buildings, the clothes that are spread out over the road by children.

This type of welcome was a popular custom for the Jews. It was a show of honor that was reserved only for a king who was to rise to his office by being anointed with sanctified oil. Jesus is hailed as the Messiah, which means "the anointed one". Icons depicting this scene are called in Greek "Vaiophoros", which is translated as "Palm-Bearing", because it depicts the people holding palm branches.

April 24, 2021

No, Lazarus Was Not the "Beloved Disciple" of the Gospel of John

The phrase "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (ὁ μαθητὴς ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς) or, in John 20:2; "the disciple beloved of Jesus" (μαθητὴν ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ Ἰησοῦς), is used six times in the Gospel of John, but in no other New Testament accounts of Jesus. John 21:24 states that the Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of this disciple. The tradition of the Church has been that this "Beloved Disciple" is John the Evangelist, one of the Twelve Disciples of Christ.

Some modern scholars have offered an alternative possibility: the Beloved Disciple is Lazarus of Bethany, based on John 11:5: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus", and John 11:3: "Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick." Furthermore, the character of the Beloved Disciple is not mentioned before the raising of Lazarus (Lazarus being raised in John 11, while the Beloved Disciple is first mentioned in John 13).

Interpretation of the Icon of the Raising of Lazarus


The icon transfers us to the outskirts of the city, in a rocky landscape. In one of those rocks, according to the tradition of the Judeans, Lazarus' tomb had been hollowed out. Here again, the figure of Christ is the most prominent. His grief is obvious, but we can still infer His divinity. This is betrayed firstly by His majestic stance, and secondly, by the fact that the Judeans (these are the people grouped at the right-hand side) are looking at Christ and not at Lazarus. Christ's one hand is holding a scroll, while the other hand is extended towards Lazarus, with an intense gesture. A young man is removing the shroud's bands and another is moving the slab away from the tomb's entrance. Lazarus' sisters are impressively portrayed; they are prostrate before the Lord, their faces lined with their unspeakable grief. It has been aptly observed that "all those portrayed, comprise simply and solely, the varying shades and psychological gradations of the same sentiment, the same psychological state - that of deep solemnity in the face of the event; from the serene movements of the Apostles, to Mary's lamentation so full of self-denial" (Icons of Cretan Art, p. 364).

Saturday of Lazarus: Epistle and Gospel Reading


Saturday of Lazarus

 Epistle Reading

Prokeimenon. Mode 1.
Psalm 26.1,2
The Lord is my light and my savior.
Verse: The Lord is the defender of my life.

The reading is from St. Paul's First Letter to the Hebrews 12:28-29; 13:1-8


Brethren, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." Hence we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

Reflection for the Saturday of Lazarus (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse
To whomever has work-loving Martha, who symbolizes comprehensive good works, and who has Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, symbolizing an attentive and warm appeal to the Lord with all the heart, the Lord Himself will come and will resurrect Lazarus, who symbolizes his spirit, and will release him from all his emotional and fleshly bonds. Then a truly new life will begin in him, bodiless in the body and unearthly on the earth. It will be a true resurrection in the spirit before the future resurrection, which will be together with the body!

April 23, 2021

Image of Christ Appears to Weep and Open Its Shut Eyes

On April 19, 2021 a video recording of a fresco of the face of Christ in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem seems to capture a shocking image. According to eyewitnesses, Christ opens and closes his eyes and weeps, and the video appears to capture the moment. Whether this is true or some sort of an optical illusion, it is an interesting phenomenon to say the least. The image specifically is the Holy Mandylion, which is based on the tale of when Christ sent by request His miraculously imprinted image on a handkerchief to King Abgar of Edessa to heal him of his leprosy. I find this to be a bit of an oxymoron - a image of a miraculous handkerchief weeping when handkerchiefs are often used to wipe away tears. Many believe that since the Holy Mandylion was used to cure the leprosy of the king, perhaps this sign has something to do with the current pandemic.

Priest in Greece Weeps While Reciting the Salutations of the Akathist Hymn

This video shows Fr. Demetrios Loupasakis reading the Salutations of the Akathist Hymn on Friday 16 April 2021 at the Church of Saint Isidore on Lycabettus Hill in Athens, Greece. This took place during a strict Covid-19 lockdown across Greece and in the Athens region.

A Prayer Written by Elder Ephraim of Arizona from the Friday Before Palm Sunday in 1980

Friday Before Palm Sunday,
15 March 1980

In my poor prayer tonight I begged my Heavenly King and Father to erase from me the crimes of my soul whatever I have written with my carelessness.

May my tears fall on my written sins and erase them. My God do me this great favor and act of mercy, and remove the infinite multitude of my small and great sins. I have wept much regarding the blemishes on the garment of my soul. How will I present myself to my Bridegroom with so many stains and filth?

Reflection for the Last Day of Great Lent (St. Theophan the Recluse)

By St. Theophan the Recluse

The holy forty days of Great Lent have come to an end! Now each of you sit and calculate the result — what was there in the beginning and what is there now? There was buying, so what are the gains? Is there at least a small profit? We have stepped into the arena: so, did we run, and having run, did we achieve what we expected? A struggle was announced: so, did we arm ourselves, did we fight, and having fought did we fall, or conquer? Attentive and vigilant fasters, having laboured with contrite and humbled hearts, upon looking back cannot but rejoice. However, for us, careless and flesh-pleasing, concerned only with fleshly comforts and things that please us, there is always only shame. But even this is lacking. Some take a beating but feel no pain, because they have a copper forehead and an iron neck. 

April 22, 2021

Interview Regarding the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (2 of 2)

...continud from part one.

Α.B.: With what you are saying, Your Eminence, you reminded me of the Naval Battle of Gerontas - and I bring this up because you speak of the Orthodox ethos of the Greek slaves - and I remembered that on the 29th of August in 1824 the Naval Battle took place, and the Greeks with Andreas Miaoulis as the navy captain defeated the Turkish and Egyptian fleets, and when the battle was over and everyone was all smoked from the gunpowder, Miaoulis gave the crew bread and olives because it was a day when a strict fast is observed, it was the feast of Saint John, and despite the fact that they could have eaten anything different that day, they instead observed the fast of the Church.

H.E.: Yes, we see this in all the leaders of the Revolution, who had this ethos. And above all, of course, we see this in Makriyannis. When one reads Makriyannis' Memoirs, one sees the whole tradition they had. And what I want to say is that this was the tradition with which the Romans grew up, it is the Romaiik tradition, the Philokalic tradition, the Hesychast tradition.

April 21, 2021

The Week Before Holy Week and our Journey Towards Jerusalem

In Greece the Sixth Week of Great Lent, which is the week before Holy Week, is known as "deaf week" (κουφή) or "silent week" (βουβή). It is the final leg of our journey towards Jerusalem with Christ and His disciples, where we will participate in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. It is a difficult path in difficult times, an uphill path which we walk while bearing a cross on our shoulders. Holy Week is a time of increased prayer, increased fasting, and a period of renewal and reconciliation and forgiveness.

The Fragrant Paschal Egg of Saint Iakovos Tsalikes

Saint Iakovos Tsalikes (+ 1991) narrated the following story from his childhood:

When it was Great Lent we fasted strictly. Despite all the hard work, we waited for the Annunciation and Palm Sunday to come, so we could eat some fried salted cod, which seemed tasty to us like brittle, or a few fresh sardines, the only fish that was available to our village from the sea and then only rarely. My mother, in order to test me if I was fasting with my heart, sometimes said to me during lent:

April 20, 2021

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt and Its Theological Messages (1 of 4)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Many people in our time, from various circumstances of a volatile life, are tormented by situations of guilt, which inevitably lead to existential pain, depression and despair.

The Church, however, comforts people, because it shows them ways to escape from frustration, which is the devil's greatest weapon in order to dismantle people, and it shows them the truth that they have enormous abilities to transform with the energies of divine Grace. It can be that from the worst state of being that they can attain to deification, to become, that is, according to Grace what God is by nature.

The Church, however, is not content only with the teaching of deification, but also presents examples, in which it shows how a person in the most miserable condition can experience blessed deification.

One of these examples is Saint Mary of Egypt, whose memory the Church determined to be celebrated, besides on the day of her repose on April 1st, also on the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent to encourage everyone on their journey towards deification and sanctification.

Interview Regarding the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (1 of 2)

The following is a recorded interview with the journalist of the Radio Station of the Church of Greece, Adamantia Bourtzinou, conducted on January 21, 2021, with His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou, regarding the 200th anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.

Adamantia Bourtzinou: We have the special pleasure and honor to have on our telephone line His Eminence Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou Mr. Hierotheos. Good day, Your Eminence. Your blessing.

His Eminence: Good morning. Hope you are well and a good morning to all our listeners.

Α.B.: Thank you very much for being with us today and we will have the opportunity to discuss the first event that took place in the Holy Metropolis of Nafpaktos for the 200 years since the Greek Revolution of 1821. This year the Holy Synod has organized celebrations in all the Metropolises and you have already begun.

The Mystical Journey of the Christian, Through the Desert, Towards the Resurrection and Pentecost (3 of 5)

4. "The Imagination and the Ascetic Struggle Against Its Various Aspects"

The ascetic in his struggle for the purity of his inner world and its preservation is called to struggle against the imagination, which is an energy of the soul; however, when it operates in a paradoxical way and accepts influences from the outside world and from the devil it distorts the inner state of the ascetic.

"The world of the human will and imagination is the world of mirages. It is common to man and the fallen angels, and imagination is, therefore, often a conductor of demonic energy."

Thus, through imagination, demons work and distort the inner state of man.

The ascetic struggles against all forms of the imagination that distract him from God. There are especially four forms of the imagination.

Watch the Documentary "Athos, the World's Brightest Peak" Now for Free for a Limited Time

Because the 18th San Francisco Greek Film Festival is going on right now, they are offering the 60-minute 2020 documentary by Argyris Liapis titled Athos, the World's Brightest Peak for free to stream online. It is in Greek with English subtitles. As of today, you only have five days to begin to watch it, and from the moment you begin to watch it, you have ten days to finish it. Here is a description of the documentary:

Three monks from Mount Athos, the largest monastic center of Orthodox Christianity, share their thoughts about faith, Monasticism, their decision to become monks, their lives in Mount Athos and the monastic community. The camera travels through the peninsula of Agion Oros, reaches pristine places and the summit of Mount Athos, recording snapshots from monks' every day lives and also images that are unknown even to regular visitors of the Holy Mountain.

(Not Available Outside the United States)

April 19, 2021

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


Since September 8, 2020 in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Nea Elvetia of Vyronas, a suburb of Athens, an icon of the Virgin Mary continues to weep till this day. It has been confirmed to be authentic by the local Metropolis. The number of miracles increases daily. 

The following letter has been issued regarding upcoming scheduling:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us respond to her graceful call, let her tears soothe our pain, cool our afflicted souls, extinguish our murderous passions, erase our pains, the wounds of our souls and our sorrows and finally let us be left in her grace to taste her unstoppable gifts for our salvation. For those who intend to respond to her consolation call, the Holy Temple can be visited from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm daily, while the Holy Paraklesis in front of the Holy Icon is performed at 11:00 am. During the rosy and sweetest period of the Pentecostarion, ie from 05/03/2021 to 06/19/2021, a Divine Liturgy will be performed daily in our Holy Temple. Those who wish, can give names for commemoration For Health and For Repose.

You can follow services on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/in.agiosdimitrios) .

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - The Cup (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"The cup that I drink you shall drink." (Mk. 10:39)

The two disciples asked Christ for glory by human standards, having in mind that His Kingdom is physical. But Christ, correcting their erroneous belief, indicates the real and eternal glory that enters through the "cup", which is the Passion and the Cross. He Himself was glorified through the Cross and His disciples will be glorified through the cross. We will try to analyze this truth, that is, the "cup" is the glory of the Church.

First Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Fear of God
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

On the fifth Sunday of Great Lent, our Holy Church honors the memory of Saint Mary of Egypt. Her truly wonderful life is known to you because every year on this day it is narrated in the churches. But I will describe her again in a few words to remember the unusual and unique life of this Saint.

She was a very beautiful woman, living in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, and she spent her life in prodigality. One day while walking on the beach she saw a boat with many Christians that was ready to sail to Jerusalem for the feast of the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross. The thought came to her to go for a trip to Jerusalem as well.

April 18, 2021

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent - Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt (Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos)


By Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

On this day we honor the memory of our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt, who is celebrated on the 1st of April. As the Horologion says: "It was also established for today, as we approach the end of Holy Lent, to arouse the idle and sinful towards repentance, having as an example the celebrated Saint." From this same book we record the following about this holy woman.